Good O' Boy Roundup Report - March, 1996

a) Allegations of racist signs

Hayward alleged that two racist signs were posted during the 1989 Roundup. In his affidavit, he claimed that the signs were at the registration desk, which was just outside the campground, when he arrived and that they remained posted there throughout the Roundup. In his OIG interview he testified that when he drove up to the registration area "the signs weren't clear to [him] at that time." He also said they were basically in the same location, "to the left as you entered," as the 1990 sign which he videotaped. He claimed he arrived at the Roundup on Wednesday afternoon. [/ Other evidence indicated, however, that the Roundup did not begin that year until Thursday morning, so the registration area would not have been set up when he arrived. ] He said he camped outside the main campground, to the left of the entrance road, with a group of Fort Lauderdale officers, many of whom Hayward knew from his tenure with the Fort Lauderdale Police Department.

(i) Evidence

Several witnesses said they recalled seeing a racist sign posted in either 1989 or 1990. Based on their descriptions of the sign, its location, and other recollections regarding the year in which they said they observed the sign, for all but two of these witnesses we concluded that the witnesses were recalling the 1990 sign. One witness, a civilian, said he remembered seeing a single racist sign saying, "niggers check in here." He said he could not be certain if he saw it in 1989 or 1990. [ / His description of the sign and its location are not consistent with the 1990 sign. The witness viewed a photograph of the 1990 sign and said that was not the same sign he saw. He remembered hearing about the sign in the photograph but claimed he did not see the 1990 sign. On the other hand, he also said he saw the KKK skit and could not remember whether that was in 1989 or 1990. We know, however, that the skit was in 1990. Furthermore, he recalled that there were both "racist signs" and "racist skits" in 1990. ] He recalled that the sign was posted past the two poles at the entrance to the campground, but he could not remember which side of the road it was on. In a re-interview he said he believed it was to the right. From our inspection of the campground and descriptions of the location of the registration desk, we determined that this spot would have been out of sight from the persons manning the registration desk. The witness further stated that he may have seen the sign on Thursday morning. His recollection of these events was very hazy.

The second witness, a criminal defense lawyer, said he may have seen two racist signs near the registration table in 1989. He recalled seeing the signs when he arrived at the Roundup as a passenger in a friend's van and being concerned that because he was Jewish he would not be welcome at an event where such signs were present. [ / This individual not only said he felt very welcome but also returned to four more Roundups. ] That friend, a Fort Lauderdale police officer, had no recollection of driving this person to the Roundup or seeing signs under those circumstances. [ / This person did recall seeing one racist sign at the Roundup but his recollection is consistent with the 1990 sign. ] The lawyer stated, however, that his memory has been significantly affected by some health problems suffered in early 1995. He was not certain whether he first attended in 1989 or 1990, although he recalled riding with his friend the first year and driving his girlfriend's car the second year. [ / We did not find a check from this individual registering for the 1989 Roundup. His friend, however, paid by check in an amount sufficient to cover two registrations. The check did not indicate who the second individual was. ] His girlfriend's car is visible in the 1990 video. He also said he was told during the Roundup that Rightmyer had ordered the sign down. This is consistent with the 1990 sign but not with any possible 1989 sign. As with the first witness, this witness was not certain about these recollections.

Significantly, however, the witness also stated that his friend, the Fort Lauderdale police officer, had told him he had never seen such signs at a Roundup before. The witness further said that he had returned to the registration table later that same day and the signs were gone. Finally, he said he did not see any similar signs in subsequent years.

Neither witness claimed to have reported this alleged conduct to Rightmyer or any other leaders of the Roundup, who insisted that they did not see or become aware of the presence of such conduct in 1989.

(ii) OIG findings

Out of 152 interviews of attendees of the 1989 Roundup, only 2 persons other than Hayward provided even minimal support that any racist sign was posted in 1989. First, neither of their recollections bears any similarity to Hayward's claims. Second, neither witness had any confidence in his belief that the signs he observed were posted in 1989. One witness believed he possibly saw a sign on Thursday morning. The Roundup that year did not officially begin until Thursday and the registration desk would not have opened until mid- to late morning, so if he saw a sign that morning, it would have been just prior to or just after the Roundup's official start. No one else recalled seeing this particular sign. [/ Witnesses' recollections of racist signs tended to be fairly vivid compared to recollections of other events at the same Roundup, suggesting that the signs made a big impression on those who saw them. The absence of such recollections regarding a 1989 sign is thus probative on the issue of whether such a sign was in fact posted in 1989. In contrast, over fifty witnesses reported seeing the 1990 sign and many others reported having heard about it. ] So if in fact it was posted in 1989, it must have been removed fairly quickly, contrary to Hayward's claim that the sign remained posted throughout the Roundup. It is possible but, in light of the witness' own uncertainty and the lack of corroborating evidence, not certain that a racist sign was posted just past the entrance to the campground for a short period of time before the Roundup officially started in 1989.

Even if such a sign had been posted, the witness had no information as to who was responsible for it. The campground is not secured when the Roundup is not in session. Some of the local river raft guides also live at the campground for extended periods of time and would have been present before the Roundup got under way. Other local people were known to frequently be in or around the campground. Some of the participants, particularly those who traveled great distances, arrived at the campground before the official opening of the Roundup and camped there for several days before the activities began. Under such circumstances attempting to assign responsibility for such a sign would be pure speculation. Significantly, contrary to Hayward's claim, this sign would not have been visible from the registration desk and there would be no basis to blame persons manning the desk for its presence.

The second witness could not be sure which year he saw a sign, and some of his recollections were consistent with signs which were posted in 1990 and 1992. We do not know if he saw these particular signs. The witness did, however, say that the sign he saw was taken down shortly after his arrival and he never saw such signs again.

Virtually everyone who attended in 1989 must have passed by the registration desk sometime during the Roundup. Substantial numbers of persons thus would have seen the signs had they been posted at or near the registration desk for the entire Roundup as Hayward claimed, or even for a significant period of time. The person responsible for running the registration desk, and others who camped with or in close proximity to him, denied seeing a sign posted at or near the registration desk during any portion of the 1989 Roundup.

Based on our lengthy interview of the person responsible for the registration desk and the significant corroboration we found for his testimony, we found this witness to be credible and to be genuinely intolerant of racism at the Roundup. After several racist acts occurred in 1990 this person complained and told Rightmyer to get control of the Roundup or he was never returning. Rightmyer took specific actions based on these complaints. This witness personally removed a similar type of racist sign in 1992 and claimed that he was very angry that it had been posted. In 1994, a relative, who is a Native American often mistaken for being black, stayed with him for the entire Roundup.

In sum, Hayward's testimony on this issue does not appear to be reliable; the recollections of two other witnesses are indeterminate; the overwhelming number of witnesses reject Hayward's claim; and the testimony of the person responsible for registration is particularly reliable. We thus conclude that Hayward's claim that racist signs were posted at the registration desk for any portion of the 1989 Roundup, let alone for the entire Roundup, is unsubstantiated. More broadly, because only Hayward and 2 other witnesses out of 152 attendees who were interviewed claim that any racist sign was posted, and in all three cases the witnesses could be confusing 1989 with a different year, there is insufficient evidence for us to conclude that any racist sign was displayed in 1989.