Aug 142015


by Naja and Arnaud Girard…….

For years they’ve lived with this embarrassing secret, which they feel has tainted their home from the moment they moved in. Even today they wouldn’t give their names for this story. The secret, though, is out.

“It floored me when I saw it,” said Commissioner Tony Yaniz this week to The Blue Paper. “And I mean it. Loving this town the way I love it, I felt that I was reading one of the most offensive things I’ve ever read.”

What had been handed to him was a copy of the plat map for over 100 houses in the area of Flagler Avenue and Tenth Street, and under “restrictions” it read:

no race or nationality caucasian

“No race or nationality, other than those of the Caucasian race shall use or occupy any building on any lot, except that this covenant shall not prevent occupancy by domestic servants of a different race or nationality employed by an owner or tenant.”

Lime grove sub 2

“And it’s not even that old,” says Yaniz, “Look. It was signed in 1941!”

The restriction is of course unenforceable today, as the U.S. Supreme Court declared such “racially restrictive covenants” in property deeds unconstitutional seven years later, in 1948.

“Still, in the climate of ‘One Human Family’ it has to be addressed,” said Yaniz.

So, where did it come from?

Longtime resident Ray Blazevic told us the goal at the time, for some, was to keep all non-Whites out. That would include Jews, Cubans, everyone not considered a pure White American. “In other words,” said Monroe County historian, Tom Hambright, “it was not just against the Blacks.”

“In Key West,” said Hambright, “the Klan used to march through the neighborhoods of the Cuban community as much as it did the Black community. You know – at night – with torches…” It had a lot to do with the cigar industry. The Klan was trying to keep all the Cuban workers from going on strike.”

As a matter of fact, one of the most famous of the Klan’s lynchings known as ‘Bloody Christmas’ involved, in 1921, a William Decker, manager of the Samuel L. Davis Cigar Company and a Hispanic man, Manuel Cabeza, also called “Isleno.”

KKK charter Key WestKey West was not always “One Human Family.” Three years ago the Key West library received the original charter of the Key West chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. It is titled, “Imperial Palace, Invisible Empire, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.” The list of prominent Key West members includes such names as: J. Harris whose code name was “Klaliff”, Maloney – “Klabee”, Sawyer – “Klexter”, and J Y Porter – “Exalted Cyclops.”

That was in 1921. Twenty years later, his son William R. Porter, an officer heading the Key West Realty Company was building his “Caucasian only” housing development on Flagler Avenue.

The 100 new houses went up on an old Key lime grove a short distance from where, in 1921, Manuel “Isleno” Cabeza’s body was left hanging from a Palm tree riddled with bullets. Twenty-four year old Isleno had fallen for a mulatto girl named Angela. Five hooded Klan members crashed through his bedroom door, dragged him out of his house, horse-whipped and left him tarred and feathered.

During the battle, Isleno managed to rip three of the white hoods off and even though he told police he hadn’t recognized anyone, he found Bill Decker driving down Duval Street a few days later, on Christmas Eve, and shot him dead. In the back seat of his auto, so the story goes, was a turkey dressed for the Decker family’s Christmas dinner.

Isleno was arrested after a gun battle where the Sheriff marshaled some 50 gun-touting citizens. That night Klan members tore him out of his jail cell and brutally murdered him.

Things have changed. Just last year, however, The Blue Paper reported on the case of another young man who’d been walking Duval Street with his Black fiancé from ‘the village.’ This time it was 2011. He was called, “nigger lover” by a local couple. They threatened to “kick his nigger girlfriend’s ass.” Young Murphy, just 27, fought back, was tased by a police officer, and hit his head on the sidewalk so hard that he’s been in a vegetative state ever since.   Citizen Review Board member, Arthur Dennison (a Priest), called Murphy a man who made bad choices and who deserved what happened to him.

Osborne colored additionOther Florida communities have also had to deal with their not-so-rosy past. The City of Lake Worth decided to rename their Osborne neighborhood, which had been named the “Colored Addition” at a time in the 1950’s when city code forced all Black people to live in that part of town. The Lake Worth City Council adopted a resolution declaring, “any public record which assails the human dignity and ethnic heritage of any race is a disgrace and an assault of the dignity of all citizens and is an evil worthy of protest.”

“Maybe what we can do about it today will only be ceremonial, but I believe it would be beneficial and unifying for the community to at least somehow acknowledge that it is wrong,” said Yaniz.

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 August 14, 2015  Posted by at 12:48 am * Featured Story *  Add comments

  12 Responses to “Key West Homes: “Caucasian Only””

  1. Powerful-Courageous-Compelling-Breathtaking…

    Evil and Ignorance are a potent and lethal force; never accepting no as an answer.

  2. As stated “Citizen Review Board member, Arthur Dennison (a Priest), called Murphy a man who made bad choices and who deserved what happened to him.”

    Does he still believe that?
    Does anyone in Key West really believe that?

  3. for those who still cling to the notion that the civil war, or the civil right laws ended slavery and racial discrimination, think again. slavery has never ended, in fact it flourishes, just disguised and devoid of chains and flogging. this article purports one of those ways. the segregation of the races has been an ongoing officially sanctioned policy of the u.s. government since the New Deal days. you think inner city ghettos and suburbanization were accidents, the result of economics or lack of initiative?

    read this:

  4. God bless Matthew Shaun Murphy and his family. God bless all the fallen to hate and ignorance.

  5. Yes, indeed. Ol’ Jim Crow was alive and well even here in KW. We are/were a part of old Florida, after all. It is useful to remember this part of the island’s history as we grapple with today’s problems. Learn from history, or be doomed to repeat it.

    I think the most glaring example of ignoring history here in KW is the story of the African Cemetery. It clearly appeared on the US Army Corps of Engineers map of the island drawn in 1861, only to be conveniently forgotten for decades while Key West was a part of the “old south.”

    Thank you for publishing this historic article. We can all learn to do better, when we know the truth of the past.

  6. Jews were also not allowed to buy and live in certain lake communities in .New York and Connecticut. I remember seeing signs on old real estate adds ” RESTRICTED”

  7. Interesting article, but welcome to the real world. Discrimination in housing was perfectly legal until after WWII, 1947, I think. While not legal, such discrimination was commonly practiced “informally” long, long after that, at least until the 1970’s.

  8. “Twenty years later, his son William R. Porter, an officer heading the Key West Realty Company was building his “Caucasian only” housing development on Flagler Avenue.”

    William R. Porter, son of Dr. Joseph Yates Porter…definitely some jewish names there.

    Nice try, trying to get in on the “victim” game once again.

  9. I had not read this new blue paper when I turned in last night (Friday, August 14). Lots of black men were in one of my dreams last night, leaning on me to do something. When I opened the blue paper online this morning and read this lead article, I knew what the black men were aiming me at.

    Thank you again, Arnaud and Naja, for going where even the prior and first incarnation of the blue paper feared to tread. There is a poster on the wall in your home, saying:

    “Our days begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    The other day I told Arnaud, back in 2003, when I ran for mayor of Key West the first time, there was a small weekly newspaper/journal named “Celebrate”, which interviewed the five mayor candidates in a written questionnaire. One question was, what did we think should be done about the awful relationship between Bahama Village and KWPD? I wrote for my answer, only cops approved by Bahama Village elders should be allowed into Bahama Village. The journalist who posed the questions to us reported in an article in the next week’s Celebrate that the other four mayor candidates, one of whom was incumbent Mayor Jimmy Weekly, had declined to answer the Bahama Village/KWPD question. Only Sloan Bashinsky offered a solution, which you read above and the journalist reported.

    I told Arnaud, that’s still what needs to happen. He said it is happening now, Bahama Village residents tell him and Naja, thanks to the articles they wrote about Bahama Village and KWPD.

    Arnaud said, before he and Naja started reporting police misconduct in Bahama Village, they were told by blacks in Bahama Village that the situation with the police was so bad there that maybe the best thing was for the blacks and the police to have a shoot out, with guns.

    When CRB member Tom Milone came into Sippin’ Internet Cafe this morning, where I was working on today’s post at, in which I wrote a bit about this blue paper article and race relations, I could not resist asking Tom if he thinks CRB member Arthur Dennison, a St. Mary Star of the Sea church honcho, is the wacko police can do no wrong psycho Arnaud, Naja and I think he is? Tom said, “No comment.”

    Re this part of the blue paper article:

    “Young Murphy, just 27, fought back, was tased by a police officer, and hit his head on the sidewalk so hard that he’s been in a vegetative state ever since. Citizen Review Board member, Arthur Dennison (a Priest), called Murphy a man who made bad choices and who deserved what happened to him.”

    Matthew, instead of going after the white racist woman, who was holding a pit bull to her, went after her white boyfriend, who was trying to talk Matthew down, trying to persuade Matthew to walk away, his girlfriend was drunk. But instead, Matthew punched the white boyfriend. And he was going to punch him again, it seems, when he was tasered.

    Witnesses, including the white boyfriend of the white racist woman, and the white racist woman herself as I recall, said the cop did not give any warning to Matthew, to stop fighting; the cop did not even announce his presence; the cop was out of Matthew’s range of vision; and that’s what was wrong with the case: blindside tasering, according to earlier blue paper articles. And, tasers generally.

    Naja and Arnaud told me after they first wrote about the Matthew Murphy case that Matthew had a premonition: if he went with his girlfriend to Duval Street, something bad with the police would happen, and he held off going, but she kept wanting to go, so he went, and when the premonition started to come true, instead of walking away, Matthew punched the white racist woman’s white boyfriend, who had not said anything about Matthew’s black girlfriend, who was pregnant with their child.

    A horrible outcome all the way around. Maybe nice karma will visit the white racist woman. Maybe she will know where it came from, maybe she won’t. That’s the problem with karma; it doesn’t always explain itself.

    Beyond the Key West issues, Dr. King was killed because he came out against America’s war in Vietnam, which he viewed as a rich white man’s war being fought, to a large degree, by young black men, and without those young black men that war could not be waged, and that modern version of African slavery would have ceased to exist, but it lives on today in rich white American men’s wars elsewhere overseas.

    If black Americans refused to fight rich white American men’s wars, that would change America, radically, quickly. But, I don’t think it’s in most young black men to see that; or if they see it, to do it. I wish Dr. King would start pestering them in their dreams. Scaring the liver out of them, if necessary, to get their attention. Instill them with fear of God, which somewhere in the Old Testament is said to be the beginning of wisdom, which, wisdom, is assigned the female gender in the Old Testament.

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