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1964. When America was at war with itself.
Agent Rupert Anderson
- [to Deputy Pell] Make no mistake about it, Deputy. I'll cut your fucking head clean off and not give a shit how it reads in the report sheet!
- [Addressing a large crowd of White people] I love Mississippi. [The audience cheers] THEY! They hate Mississippi! They hate us because we represent a shining example of successful segregation. These Northern students, with their Communist, atheist bosses, and their wish to destroy us this week, has taken a terrible blow. This week, their cause has been crippled. This week, these federal policeman you see around here prying into our lives, violating out civil liberties have learned that they are powerless against us if every single Anglo-Saxon Christian one of us stands together!
- They want me to say, "Let us not forget that two white boys also died helping negros help themselves." They want me to say, "We mourn with the mothers of these two white boys." But the state of Mississippi won't even allow these white boys to be buried in the same cemetary as this [points to coffin] negro boy. I say, "I have no more love to give! I have only anger in my heart today, and I want you to be angry with me! That I am sick and I am tired, and I want you to be sick and tired with me! I-I-I am sick and tired of going to the funerals of black men who have been murdered by white men! And I-I am sick and tired of the people of this country who continue to allow these things to happen!" What is an unalienable right if you are a negro? What does it mean, Equal Treatment under the law? What-what does it mean, Liberty and justice for all? Now I say to these people, "Look at the face of this young man, and you will see the face of a black man. But if you look at the blood shed, it is red! It is like yours! It is JUST... LIKE... YOURS!"
- Ward: Some things are worth dying for.
- Anderson: Down here, things are different; here, they believe that some things are worth killing for.
- Ward: Where does it come from, all this hatred?
- Anderson: You know, when I was a little boy, there was an old Negro farmer lived down the road from us, name of Monroe. And he was, uh, - well, I guess he was just a little luckier than my Daddy was. He bought himself a mule. That was a big deal around that town. Now, my Daddy hated that mule, 'cause his friends were always kiddin' him about oh, they saw Monroe out plowin' with his new mule, and Monroe was gonna rent another field now they had a mule. And one morning that mule just showed up dead. They poisoned the water. And after that there was never any mention about that mule around my Daddy. It just never came up. So one time, we were drivin' down the road and we passed Monroe's place and we saw it was empty. He'd just packed up and left, I guess. Gone up North, or somethin'. I looked over at my Daddy's face - and I knew he'd done it. And he saw that I knew. He was ashamed. I guess he was ashamed. He looked at me and he said: 'If you ain't better than a nigger, son, who are you better than?'
- Ward: And you think that's an excuse?
- Anderson: No, it's not an excuse, it's just a story about my daddy.
- Ward: Where's that leave you?
- Anderson: With an old man who was just so full of hate that he didn't know that bein' poor was what was killin' him.
- Mayor Tilman: Fact is, we got two cultures down here: a white culture, and a colored culture. Now, that's the way it always has been, and that's the way it always will be.
- Anderson: Rest of America don't see it that way, Mr. Mayor.
- Sheriff Ray Stuckey: Rest of America don't mean jack shit. You in Mississippi now.
- Anderson: You know, if I were a Negro, I'd probably think the same way they do.
- Ward: If you were a Negro, nobody would give a damn what you thought.
- Sheriff Ray Stuckey: Do you like baseball, do you, Anderson?
- Anderson: Yeah, I do. You know, it's the only time when a black man can wave a stick at a white man and not start a riot.
- Frank Bailey: Now you listen here, you cornholin' fucker. You tell your queer-loving nigger bosses that they ain't never gonna find those civil rightsers! So you might as well pack up and go back where you came from and...
- [Anderson grabs his crotch hard, Bailey screams in pain]
- Anderson: [while grabbing Bailey by the crotch] Now you listen here, Shitkicker! Don't you go confusin' me with some whole other body. You must be thinkin' with your dick if you think we're gonna just walk away from this. We're gonna stay 'till this gets done. [after opening his coat and exposing his gun he turns to Deputy Pell] How 'bout you, Deputy. That gun of yours just for show or do you get to shoot people once in a while? [Releases his grip on Bailey, then takes a swig of beer] Thanks for the beer.
- Ward: Just don't lose sight of whose rights are being violated!
- Anderson: Don't put me on your perch, Mr. Ward.
- Ward: Don't drag me into your gutter, Mr. Anderson!
- Anderson: These people are crawling out of the SEWER, MR. WARD! Maybe the gutter's where we outta be!
- Mrs. Pell: It's not good for you to be here.
- Anderson: Why?
- Mrs. Pell: It's ugly. This whole thing is so ugly. Have you any idea what it's like to live with all this? People look at us and only see bigots and racists. Hatred isn't something you're born with. It gets taught. At school, they said segregation what's said in the Bible... Genesis 9, Verse 27. At 7 years of age, you get told it enough times, you believe it. You believe the hatred. You live it... you breathe it. You marry it.
- Television Commentator: Your name, please.
- Clayton Townley: Clayton Townley, local businessman.
- Television Commentator: Are you, sir, a spokesman for the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan?
- Clayton Townley: I told you, I'm a businessman. I'm also a Mississippian, and an American! And I'm getting SICK and TIRED of the way us Mississippians are getting our views distorted by you newsmen and on the TV. So let's get this straight. We do NOT accept Jews, because they REJECT Christ! And their control over the International Banking Cartels are at the root of what we call Communism today. We do not accept Papists, because they bow to a Roman dictator! We do not accept Turks, Mongrels, Tartars, Orientals nor Negroes because we are here to protect Anglo-Saxon Democracy, and the American way!
- Television Commentator: Thank you very much.
- Deputy Pell: You got no right to be here. This is a political meeting.
- Ward: Doesn't smell that way to me, Deputy.
- Deputy Pell: It's a damn political meeting, Hoover Boy.
- Ward: Oh, it looks like a political meeting, but smells more like Klan to me... with or without the Halloween costumes.
- [A disguised Agent Monk has kidnapped the mayor, Tillman, and taken him to a shack]
- Agent Monk: You. I'm gonna tell you a story. A kid named Homer Wilkes lives 30 miles north of here. He'd just taken his girlfriend home and was walking along the road. A truck pulls up beside him. Four white boys took him for a ride. Now Homer, he headn't done anything, except be a Negro. They took him to a shack, a regular old shack like this one. Then they took out a razor blade.
- [Monk shows him a razor blade]
- Agent Monk: Ragged old razor blade, like this one. They pulled down his pants, they spread his legs, and they sliced off his scrotum.
- [He then shows Tillman a coffee cup]
- Agent Monk: Then they put it in a coffee cup, like this one. Mayor, do you know how much you bleed when someone cuts off your balls? HUH?!
- [He throws the cup at Tillman]
- Agent Monk: When they found Homer, he looked like he head been dipped in blood up to his waist. He was barely alive when they got him to the hospital, and he can barely walk now.
- Agent Bird: [the mayor has hung himself] I don't understand why he did it. He wasn't in on it. He wasn't even Klan.
- Ward: Mr. Bird, he was guilty. Anyone's guilty who lets these things happens and pretends like it isn't. No, he was guilty all right. Just as guilty as the fanatics who pulled the trigger. Maybe we all are.
- Gene Hackman - Agent Rupert Anderson
- Willem Dafoe - Agent Alan Ward
- Frances McDormand - Mrs. Pell
- Brad Dourif - Deputy Clinton Pell
- R. Lee Ermey - Mayor Tilman
- Gailard Sartain - Sheriff Ray Stuckey
- Stephen Tobolowsky - Clayton Townley
- Michael Rooker - Frank Bailey
- Pruitt Taylor Vince - Lester Cowans
- Badja Djola - Agent Monk
- Kevin Dunn - Agent Bird
- Frankie Faison - Eulogist