Jerry P. Shinley Archive:
Guy Banister, Leander Perez and Jim Garrison


       The first item in this thread is the candidate profile Guy Banister provided to the Times-Picayune when he ran in a special election to fill a councilman-at-large position. Banister stated the following:

I take a positive stand in favor of segregation of the races. There are 15 active organizations in New Orleans promoting integration of the races. Ten of these organizations are Communist fronts or have submitted to Communist influence and direction.

As council-man-at large, I can be helpful in nullifying the machinations of these Communist agents and help in maintaining peace and harmony in the city. (NOTP; February 26, 1961; s 1, p 25).

Concurrent with the Democratic primary election was a referendum on a city charter change which would have allowed Mayor Morrison to run for a fifth term. Banister opposed the charter change, probably because of personal animosity he held toward Mayor Morrison.

       Banister made a statement that he believed that a majority of the registered voters would have to approve the charter change, not just a majority of the votes cast. He made this statement in Baton Rouge, after conferring with Leander Perez, Sr. The NOTP reported that Banister was in Baton Rouge "attending a meeting of the House un-American activities committee." (March 16, 1961; s 1, p 10) This reference is almost certainly to the Louisiana Joint Legislative Committee, not the national body.

       Banister's positions attracted the backing of the chairman of the Citizens' Council of Gentilly, Louis Pennington Davis, Jr. (NOTP; March 19, 1961; s 1, p 21) The Gentilly Council was a subunit of the larger Citizens' Council of Greater New Orleans (referred to as GNOCC). Davis had been involved since the inception of GNOCC in 1956 (NOTP; January 27, 1956; p 13) Leander Perez was a member of the board. Other members of the Gentilly section were Robert L. Hickerson and George L. Singelmann, usually identified as an assistant to Perez (NOTP; March 4, 1956; p 28). Perez himself spoke at an early meeting of the Gentilly Council in 1956. His topic was the "menace" of the Supreme Court. (NOTP; March 10, 1956; p 2)

       Davis made his position on the NAACP clear: "a small group of Russian Jews with known Communist ties is procuring the vast amounts of money being 'poured into NAACP activities.'" (NOTP; August 5, 1956; p 2)

       In 1961, Davis and Singelmann held forth on CORE:

No less than 13 members of its national advisory board belong to numerous organizations that have been cited for their Communist front activities.

The avowed purpose of this organization is to create incidents and excite people to violence. If their objective is successful, the South and the nation will be a seething mass of racial strife and violence. (NOTP; June 3, 1961; S 3, p 20)

       During the Ole Miss crisis in 1962, Davis sent the following telegram to General Edwin Walker: "You called for ten thousand volunteers nationwide for Mississippi's fight against Federal tyranny. Will pledge ten thousand from Louisiana alone under your command." (NOTP; September 28, 1962; S 3, p 2)

       Davis died September 15, 1971, at the age of 58. (NOTP; September 17, 1971; s 1, p 20)

       Banister's next public connection with Perez came with his participation as a speaker in a Fourth of July Rally in 1961 at which Perez was presented a 'patriotism award.' The rally was organized by Delphine Roberts acting on behalf of something called the National Confederation for Conservative Government. Others participating included Festus Brown, of the American Legion's Un-American Activities Committee, and Emile A. Wagner, school board member. Banister and Perez were photographed along with State Supreme Court Justice Walter B. Hamlin and city Judge Oliver P. Schulingkamp. (NOTP; July 2, 1961; s 1, p 14; July 5, 1961; s 1, p 3; unfortunately the photo does not come at all)

       In May of 1963, "200 persons from throughout" Louisiana met in Baton Rouge to establish the Louisiana Commitee for Free Electors. State Senator Harold Montgomery of Doyline was elected chairman. Two representatives from each Congressional District were chosen. Guy Banister was selected to represent the First District. (NOTP; May 12, 1963; s 1, p 11) Pages 322 to 327 of Glen Jeansonne's book, "Leander Perez" (Baton Rouge: LSU Press, 1977) describe the interest of Perez in the Free Elector Campaign. Note the mention of Perez's control of the First District on page 323. Banister probably couldn't have been chosen to represent that district without at least the tacit approval of Perez.

       The previous year, Senator Montgomery had introduced a resolution condemning the activities of the FBI in Louisiana. "We are outraged by the prostitution of the once great [FBI], and its present misuse as a political police force, not dissimilar in method and result to the Gestapo or NKVD..." Robert Kennedy was especially singled out for responsibility. (NOTP; July 4, 1962; s 2, p 1)

       Jerry Rose, in an article entitled "Nut Country II", (The Third Decade; May, 1990; Volume 6, Number 4; pp 1-5) transcribes a document from the National Archives concerning the activities of Major General Edwin A. Walker in New Orleans on Nov 20, 1963. The Document is a report from the Louisiana State Police. Walker met privately with Perez at his office in the National American Bank Building and also meet with about 35 conservative leaders at the Jung Hotel. On the 21st, Walker held another meeting with 90 people.

       It is possible that Walker's meeting was ostensibly connected with the Free Elector movement, which developed into a George Wallace for president campaign. It is certainly conceivable that Banister was one of the "conservative leaders" present at this meeting.

       Perhaps this would be the logical point to introduce a mutual cquaintance of Banister and Walker: Medford Bryan Evans. The first item concerning Evans is his entry from "Contemporary Authors" (Volumes 25-28 (revised); Gale Research Co.; 1971-78). Evans was born in 1907 in Lufkin, Texas. He graduated from the University of Chattanooga in 1927 and took a Ph. D. from Yale in 1933. He taught at various colleges. From 1944 to 1952, Evans worked for the Atomic Energy Commission in Oak Ridge and Washington, D. C. His last position was as chief of security training. He worked for the H. L. Hunt-created Facts Forum Foundation in Dallas from 1954 to 1955. He lived in Natchitoches, Louisiana from 1955 to 1962, teaching at Northwestern State College from 1955 to 1959, and working as a "consultant" from 1959 to 1962. In 1962, he went to work as managing editor of "The Citizen", official publication of the Citizens' Councils of America in Jackson, Mississippi. Evans was also a member of the John Birch Society and a contributor to its publication, "American Opinion". (see also: McMillen, Neil R. "The Citizens' Council". Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1971) My understanding is that Evans died in the late Eighties. M. (Medford) Stanton Evans, a member of William F. Buckley's circle, is Evans' son.

       In 1962, Evans appeared alongside General Walker at the Senate "Military Muzzling" Hearings organized by Strom Thurmond. (Military Cold War Education and Speech Review Policies; Hearings before the Special Preparedness Subcommittee of the Committee on Armed Services, U. S. Senate, 87th Congress, 2nd Session, p 1389)

       A review, by Evans, of three books related to the JFK assassination appeared in "American Opinion" for September, 1977. (pp 67-70). In the course of the review, Evans described Banister as "a friend of mine as it happens." (p69, 1st column, 1st paragraph)

       An indication that Evans and Banister moved in the same circles in Louisiana is that in 1960 Evans was named as secretary of the Louisiana States Rights Party. Kent Courtney was the party's candidate for governor. David C. Treen, a New Orleans attorney was named chairman, replacing another N. O. lawyer, Felix Lapeyre. (NOTP; January 6, 1960; s1, p11) Kent Courtney was named by the HSCA as a Banister acquaintance. (HSCA; Vol X, 130)

       General Walker should be asked about the purpose of his trip to N. O. just before the assassination. Was Banister present at the meetings? Did Walker have direct or indirect contact with Banister before this? Did he ever discuss Banister with Medford Evans? Was Banister interested in the Walker shooting? Did Walker discuss Banister with Evans after the assassination?

       Since David C. Treen's name came up, here's a bit more. In 1960, Leander Perez seized the machinery of the Louisiana States' Rights Party in order to field a slate of Presidential electors in opposition to the Democratic Kennedy-Johnson ticket. David C. Treen, Willie Rainach, Emile A. Wagner and Perez himself were on the slate. (NOTP; September 19, 1960; s1, p3) The next year, Treen attacked the National States' Rights Party, after a "secret" meeting of a purported local branch. He insisted that the Louisiana Party was in no way connected to the national group, which was "a disgrace to the term 'states rights.'" (NOTP; June 3, 1961; s2, p3). A year later, after Treen left, the Louisiana States Rights Party would file suit in Federal Court against the NSRP. The suit sought to enjoin the NSRP from using the words "States' Rights Party" in Louisiana. The complaint was made that the NSRP has falsely claimed an affiliation with the Louisiana group. The NSRP newspaper, "The Thunderbolt", was referred to as "a reprehensible, abhorrent and despicable publication." (NOTP; September 12, 1962; s2, p4) Treen would switch to the Republican party and become a congressman, then governor of Louisiana. In 1966, he was a director of INCA. (NOTP; December 13, 1966; s4, p7) I believe Treen is still alive. He spoke out in opposition to David Duke in the last election. I'm not sure if he would be too thrilled to talk about the good old days with the segregationists.

       Another Walker-New Orleans link is through George Soule, president of Soule Business College. In 1962, George Soule was "community chairman" of the New Orleans Indignation Committee. (NOTP; February 8, 1962; s2, p4) In January, Walker had addressed this group, via closed-circuit TV, at a meeting held at Soule College. (NOTP; January 4, 1962; s1, p14)

       In 1963, Soule was chairman of the 12th Annual National Congress of Freedom. (Who's Who in the South and Southwest 1963 - 1964) General Walker's lawyer, Clyde Watts, was a speaker at this event. (NOTP; April 7, 1963). J. A. Milteer was also in attendance. (Weisberg; Frame-Up; p481)

       It seems inevitable that two legendary Louisiana political figures, Leander Perez and Jim Garrison, should have crossed paths at some point. During a debate with incumbent N.O. DA Richard Dowling, long a foe of Perez, Garrison was accused of accepting money from Leander Perez, who Dowling described as "the boss and czar of Plaquemines and St. Bernard parishes." Garrison admitted to accepting a "moderate" sum from the junior Perez, also named Leander. The donation came from the Perez family. Garrison insisted that there were no strings attached to the donation. (NOTP; February 20, 1962; s3, p2) To be fair to Garrison, Perez would have supported almost anyone opposing Dowling. On the other hand, Perez did not build his reputation as a political boss by handing out money with "no strings attached."

       As the campaign heated up, an incident occurred involving the distribution of a "pornographic campaign circular" which included "a vicious and scurrilous attack involving racial and religious bigotry." The targets were Richard Dowling and State Senator Adrian Duplantier, then a candidate for Mayor opposing the incumbent, Victor Schiro. (NOTP; February 25, 1962; s1, p2) James L. Arthus, 69, was arrested and charged with violation of obscenity and political campaign laws. According to an affidavit from Glenn P. Clasen, Duplantier's campaign manager, "James L. Arthus stated that one George Singelmann, assistant to Judge Leander H. Perez, was in charge of distributing 100,000 copies of the aforesaid obscene and libellous document." An assistant DA requested that Singelmann meet him at the office of the Superintendent of Police, Joseph I. Giarusso. On the advice of his attorney, Singelmann declined. He denied involvement in the distribution of any obscene leaflets, but admitted distributing leaflets documenting an alleged "Negro bloc vote." (NOTP; February 26, 1962; s1, p1)

       The next day, Dowling's office issued a subpena for Singelmann's appearance at the DA's office. The Balter Building office of the Citizens' Council of Greater New Orleans was searched for copies of the obscene leaflets. NOPD Captains Presly J. Trosclair and Joseph H. Murray conducted the search. Only the bloc vote leaflet was found. (NOTP; February 27, 1962; s1, p5)

       Singelmann continued to refuse to appear for questioning and filed a $50,000 libel against Clasen and Arthus. Singelmann tried to suggest that Arthus was actually a Duplantier supporter. (NOTP; February 28, 1962; s1,p9; March 1, 1962; s1, p4). The story was quickly dropped after Schiro and Garrison won their respective elections.

       HSCA Volume X (pp 124-5) identifies a "James Arthus" as the janitor and a resident of the Newman Building at 544 Camp Street. Is this the same Arthus who was arrested? On December 13, 1966, Louis Ivon recorded an interview of Jack Martin conducted by Pershing Gervais. On page 4, reference is made to an individual whose name is rendered by the transcriber variously as "Kenny Arthis", "Jimmy Hodges", and finally, "Jimmy Arthis". Martin identified him as "the old man who put out the monkey picture against Dowling, located at 520 [sic] Camp Street around Lafayette Square. He does nothing. He's retired. He just copies the Nazi newspapers and fights segregation.[sic]" To this Gervais replied, "He sound like a nut!" Martin went on to allege that "Lee Harvey Oswald had offices right door [sic] to" Arthus, and that Arthus had "all of Oswald's parapanelia [sic] up there."

       James L. Arthus died October 19, 1967. This is well after the beginning of the Garrison probe. The obituary states that Arthus was a member of the Citizens' Council of Greater New Orleans. Arthus had worked for WJMR radio. (NOTP; October 19, 1967; s1, p3)

       After the runoff, GNOCC held a meeting. State Represenative Wellborn Jack commented on the upcoming visit of President Kennedy in May: "If I lived in New Orleans, I would be down there with big placards and picket the place where Kennedy speaks." Leander Perez attacked the desegregation of the parochial schools. George Singelmann announced his plans for a program called "Freedom Bus No. 1 North." Singelmann: "All we need is $968.40 for a special bus to take Negroes who say they are oppresed in the South to Chicago. We want to help them go where they won't be oppressed...We are serious about this. This is no joke." During the summer, this program was actually put into effect. It even spread to other cities. "Introduced from the stage by C. E. Vetter, council vice-chairman, [was] Jim Garrison..." (NOTP; March 31, 1962; S3, p31) It is difficult to see Garrison's appearance at this meeting as anything other than a repayment of a political debt. As far as I know, Garrison never spoke out against the Freedom Bus North insanity, never mentioned in his long probe that even the janitor in his Camp Street menagerie was affiliated with the White Citizens' Council.

       In August of 1962, with Garrison's Bourbon Street "Cleanup" in full swing, the Giant got some support from a familiar source: L. P. Davis. Davis took Schiro to task for not supplying the needed police manpower in support of "Jim Garrison in his good work in cleaning up crime in the city of New Orleans, especially in the French Quarter." Of course, Davis complained, there was always enough police to enforce school integration. (NOTP; August 30, 1962; s1, p2) After Garrison was convicted of criminal defamation in his struggle with the criminal judges in N. O., Davis was even more gracious in his praise: "The people of New Orleans wisely chose a man with no alliance as district attorney, who can act freely in the interest of the people and not be suppressed by commitments to a political organization." Davis, wearing his hat as chairman of the Conservative Committee for Constitutional Government, said that the committee was trying to raise $1000 to pay Garrison's fine. (NOTP; March 1, 1963; s3, p20)

       Barbara Reid, who participated in Garrison's probe, prepared a report on conversations she had with George Higgenbotham on April 12, 16, and 17, 1968. Higgenbotham worked as an investigator for Guy Banister in 1960 and 1961. He was in "social contact" with Banister in 1962 and 1963. He identfied as associates of Banister the following: "Martin MacAulife [sic]", Kent Courtney, and "Lou Davis".

       Higgenbotham also mentioned, as a potential lead to the "camp across the lake", a "RAY LEEHEART", described as "a bus driver out of the Magazine Street depot...very active in the Nazi party. Used to place Party slogans and posters on the wall of the depot. In May of 1961, Nazis from Arlington, Virginia, lead by George Lincoln Rockwell, arrived in New Orleans to picket the movie, "Exodus". Rockwell and nine followers were arrested for disturbing the peace. Also arrested were two local men, Ray L. Leahart, 26, and Joseph R. Oregeron, 32. (NOTP; May 25, 1961; s1, p10) When Rockwell returned to the city a year later, he indicated that he knew he would be welcome in St. Bernard Parish. (NOTP; June 4, 1962; s3, p4)

       Another person offering information to the Garrison investigation was "Mr. L. P. Davis, Jr." himself. On March 23, 1967 he called the DA's office with a story of David Ferrie flying Clay Shaw on a fishing expedition. (Charles Ward Memorandum of March 27, 1967). Let's see. A friend of Banister's offers information linking Shaw to Ferrie. Nothing suspicious there.

       In the fall of 1962, two GNOCC-backed school board candidates, Rayon A. Stevens and James L. Earhart, made an issue out of an allegation that Clifford Huete, a junior high school teacher, had required his students to purchase a history text written by Max Lerner, who had been "cited several times before [HUAC]." Stevens called for an investigation by the N. O. DA's office, under authority of state anti-subversion laws. First assistant DA Frank Klein said that he had been visited by George Singelmann, who informed him of Stevens' request. A hearing was held the day before the school board election. After a closed, two hour sesssion, Klein announced that the DA's office had no jurisdiction in the case because of Federal primacy in the area of subversion. Klein made the following statement:

Since this matter has been made a political issue, I feel that I must state that the facts indicate no knowledge by the Orleans parish school board of this situation.

Klein indicated that he was providing the hearing information to the State Attorney General for possible action. Klein found Lerner's book to be of a "questionable nature." One witness summoned to the hearing was Mary H. Brengel, a mother of a former student at the school where Huete taught. (NOTP; November 6, 1962; s1, p2)

       A Mary Helen Brengel worked as a secretary for Guy Banister from October 15 to December 10, 1963. (Navarre and Simms Memorandum of June 1, 1967) There is nothing in the cited memo to indicate that Garrison's investigators asked Brengel how and why she came to work for Banister. Her involvement in the Huete hearing suggests that she may have been in sympathy with GNOCC. Brengel said she thought Regis Kennedy was one of a group of "ex-FBI men" involved in a bid for the job of guarding the Mississipi Test Site, a NASA facility. However, Kennedy was still working for the FBI in 1963. Another interesting point is her account of the day of the assassination:

... [Brengel] and DELPHINE ROBERTS were in MR. BANNISTER's office. Mr. BANNISTER did not come in at all that day. DELPHINE received a call to inform her that the President was assassinated and to turn on the T. V. When DELPHINE ROBERTS turned on the T. V., she jumped with joy and said "I am glad."

Brengel said that Kent Courtney had purchased "most" of Banister's files.

       Out of fairness to Garrison, here's an account of criticism of Garrison by the South Louisiana Citizens' Council, a group which had splintered off from GNOCC earlier. This involves James Baldwin's book and obscentity charges refused by Garrison (NOTP; June 20, 1963; s1, p30)

Lawrence Hennessey, Jr.

       When George Singelmann filed his $50,000 libel suit against Glenn Clasen and James Arthus, his lawyer in this action was identified as Lawrence Hennessey, Jr. (NOTP; February 28, 1962; s1, p9) Interestingly, Hennessey had earlier defended Guy Banister in a criminal defamation case filed in 1958. At the time, Banister was the publisher of a weekly paper, The West Bank Herald, based in Gretna. The charge was filed by oilman Louis J. Roussel, who claimed he was defamed by a garbled account of an SEC action against a firm selling stock in Roussel's Universal Drilling Company. Roussel's partner was Louisiana State Supreme Court Supreme Justice, John B. Fournet. (NOTP; December 17, 1958; p36)

       Banister, represented by Hennessey, applied to the federal courts for relief. The case was made that Banister's rights were threatened because local prejudice made the outcome of a trial in Gretna a foregone conclusion. The charge was made that Jefferson Parish Judge John C. Boutall was "a member of the political faction which ... received heavy financial contributions from Louis J. Rousell." Herald publisher Banister had published articles "exposing various political figures allied" with this faction. (NOTP; March 5, 1959; p4; March 21;, 1959; p16) The state was represented by special attorneys Clem Sehrt and Edward Boyle, who actually represented Roussel. Judge Skelly Wright ruled against Banister and remanded the case to the local courts. (NOTP; May 14, 1959; s1, p28)

       The case came to trial in March of 1960 in the court of Judge L. Julian Samuel. Hennessey was still Banister's lawyer. Despite earlier predictions, Banister was acquitted because he had been out of town when the article, which the court indeed found libelous, was published. (NOTP; February 25, 1960; s4, p9; March 29, 1960; s1, p17)

       N. W. Ayer and Sons' Directory of Newspapers and Periodicals lists a R. M. Stewart as publisher and editor of the West Bank Herald, 535 Lafayette Street, Gretna for the years 1957 through 1959. In 1960, Dr. Frederick D. Beck is the publisher and T. A. Fox, Jr. is the editor. In 1961, there is no listing.

       The "Martin and Lewis Report", p 13 mentions a "'Doctor' Frederick Doughty-Beck (a chiropractor) residing at 932 Jackson Avenue, who knew Banister, [George Lincoln] Rockell, ... and Kent Courtney..."

       Hennessey participated in the defense of another publisher, William L. Donnels of "The Federationist", charged with criminal libel. The complainant in this case was New Orleans Mayor Chep Morrison. Donnels charged that Morrison "associated with Communists and fellow travelers", in part, because Morrison's secretary, Rosalie Brener Grad, had been a member of the Southern Conference on Human Welfare. (The successor to this group was the Southern Conference Educational Fund.) Other members of the defense team were Rudolph Becker, Guy Johnson and William Morgan. "James C. Garrison" was a special counsel for the prosecution. (At this stage Garrison was part of the Morrison political machine.) (NOTP; January 8, 1960; s1, p22)

       Banister, Singelmann, Donnels. It is not always fair to judge a lawyer by his clients. However, in this case, Hennessey made his own statement as president of the subtly named White Educational Association. In an announcement for an August 1960 meeting, it was promised that Hennessey would "discuss possible action to be taken to keep the New Orleans Public Schools open and segregated." (NOTP; August 10, 1960; s1, p9) A few days later, the White Educational Association sponsored a meeting which featured GNOCC chairman, Emmett Lee Irwin, as a speaker. (NOTP; August 25, 1960; s1, p26)


Back to the top

Back to Jerry Shinley Archive menu

Back to Jim Garrison menu


Search this site
    powered by FreeFind

Back to JFK menu

Dave Reitzes home page


Dave Reitzes home page