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The racism and abuse that John Christopher Smith experienced for five straight years conjures cruel images of a centuries-old slavery plantation era.

Smith, a former employee of a South Carolina restaurant, was treated like a slave by his boss Bobby Paul Edwards: Smith, who is African-American, was subjected to racial epithets while Edwards, who is white, beat Smith with pot and pans, a belt, his fists and forced Smith to work more than 100 hours a week without pay. Edwards also choked and slapped Smith and, in another grossly inhumane act, Edwards burned Smith’s neck with hot tongs to make Smith work faster.

It’s a reprehensible pattern of modern-day slavery.

Edwards pleaded guilty this week to forced labor while he managed the restaurant in Conway, South Carolina between 2009 and 2014.

In a statement from the U.S. Justice Department, authorities said Smith was mentally challenged and that Edwards took advantage of Smith’s disabilities.

“Human trafficking through forced labor can happen on farms, in homes, and as today’s case shows — in public places, such as restaurants,” Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore said in a statement Tuesday.

“Edwards abused an African-American man with intellectual disabilities by coercing him to work long hours in a restaurant without pay,” Gore said. “Combating human trafficking by forced labor is one of the highest priorities of this Justice Department.”

Edwards admitted to using “violence, threats, isolation and intimidation” to force Smith to work quicker, officials said.

In an interview with a CNN affiliate, Smith said Edwards physically abused him for years and forced him to live in a room behind the restaurant. Edwards would not even allow Smith to see his family.

“I wanted to get out of there a long time ago. But I didn’t have nobody I could go to,” Smith said. ” I couldn’t go anywhere. I couldn’t see none of my family.”

Edwards’ violent actions are a stark reminder of brutal slave owners who would beat enslaved African men and women to make them work faster in the fields nearly 300 years ago. Edwards’ actions are strikingly similar.

“We are talking about enslavement here,” Abdullah Mustafa, president of the local chapter of the NAACP, told a CNN affiliate.

Smith, who is about 40 years old, is now a free man.

“This defendant abused a vulnerable victim, and today’s guilty plea holds the defendant responsible for his criminal acts,” Sherri Lydon, the United States attorney for the District of South Carolina, told reporters.

Edwards faces up to 20 years in prison when he’s sentenced, a $250,000 maximum fine, and mandatory restitution to Smith.

Twenty years in prison doesn’t quite seem long enough for Edwards and with regards to restitution, what financial price do you put on slavery?

What do you think?

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14 thoughts on “Five Years A Slave: South Carolina Man Endured Modern Day Version Of Bondage

  1. S.D. on said:

    No way will I attempt to condone what this incest-bred POS did to Mr. Smith – – may he suffer immense hell here on earth and then for all of eternity. I will say, though, that his family bears some responsibility for the long-term treatment of Mr. Smith. There is absolutely no way a sibling of mine would be where I know they are and then be refused to be able to see them. I don’t know them, so I cannot speak to why they would not be more forceful to see their son, brother, nephew, cousin, but this was an atrocity and should have been reigned in long before now.

  2. tedgravely on said:

    I think Kanye must have known about this. Now it makes sense. I mean give his drugged up comments credit. Ye said, “that sounds like a choice. It’s like we’re mentally in prison.” John Christopher Smith said, “I wanted to get out of there a long time ago. But I didn’t have nobody I could go to,” Smith said. ” I couldn’t go anywhere. I couldn’t see none of my family.”. WTF!! This man has enough sense to do an interview, but simply walking off the plantation was hard. That man worked at that restaurant since he was 12 and his own family members couldn’t see that something was wrong. Darn, I mean are they all slow. I bet if Mr Smith is awarded money for wages and pain and suffering, he will not be short of finding family members to help him spend his money. Yep that modern day slave owner is atrocious, but if Mr Smith has any living siblings – they are also hot garbage. Just my opinion.

    • vdabney722 on said:

      Wow! How judgmental can you get? Blaming the victim, and by that, absolving the brutal abuser. Nary a word about the cruel, criminal behavior described. You don’t know enough about the guy who was held in bondage. He was described as mentally challenged, and you don’t even know what that means in this case. You also don’t know whether his family even knew where he was. There are millions of homeless people in this country who have lost track only of their minds, but also their kin. Never judge unless you have positive proof. As for the interview, what kind of “sense” does it take to do an interview–Not Much. Your argument is Weak and Cruel. That goes for other people who have decided to criticize the victim and his family with very few Facts.

      • Chris Mason on said:

        Vdabney, great response to tedgravely, who normally makes sensible, well thought out comments but here, he’s blaming the victim!! Shame on you Ted! That filthy POS needs to share a prison cell with a prison mate that’ll make him his bitch!! But then again, those people love s**t like that!!

  3. Does this man have any relatives? If so this should have never happened. We pay more attention to Becky kids more than our own.

  4. tib52 on said:

    I know of a black man today who is doing the same thing to white men he cussing out in front of other people beat them call them white trash in front of people he said that he pay them

  5. Chris on said:

    @MacDaddy, JHuff, AAmerican Woman – where the hell are your comments now??!! I bet you blame the black dude for the treatment he received!? Cause old white massa is right!! I hope he gets the maximum prison sentence and becomes “a slave” of some sort in prison. Hopefully the victim will receive the proper help he needs

    • americanize on said:

      You’re right Chris where my racist at.Yea I hope he meets the booty bandits and they make him an offer he can’t refuse.Blood on my knife,or sh*t on my di*k.

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