“The Deadly Encounter: Milton Scott’s Tragic Death and the Clash of Preconceptions”

By | July 17, 2023



The tragic death of Milton Scott in 1973 highlights the preconceptions and biases that exist between young Black men and law enforcement officers, a problem that still persists today. Scott, a 21-year-old LSU employee and member of the Nation of Islam, was mistakenly targeted by FBI agents who were looking for a different man wanted for deserting the Army. Scott’s death could have been prevented if proper identification procedures had been followed.

The incident took place in Baton Rouge, a city with a history of racial tension. Just a year before Scott’s death, a shootout between Black Muslims and police had resulted in multiple deaths and injuries. Scott’s affiliation with the Nation of Islam, as evidenced by a brass nameplate on his door, triggered alarm bells for the FBI agents, who had prior experience with the group.

When the agents arrived at Scott’s home to make the arrest, a verbal interaction quickly escalated into a fight, resulting in Scott being shot and killed in his front yard. Hours later, it was discovered that Scott was a victim of identity theft and that the real deserter was already serving time in prison.

Both Scott’s widow and the FBI agents involved in the incident agree that the loss of life could have been prevented. The LSU Cold Case Project conducted an investigation into Scott’s death, shedding light on the events and exploring the emotional scars left by the shooting.

The encounter at Scott’s front door serves as a metaphor for the preconceptions and biases that exist between young Black men and law enforcement officers. Scott’s affiliation with the Nation of Islam and the agents’ prior experiences with the group contributed to a heightened level of suspicion and tension. This incident highlights the need for improved training and awareness among law enforcement officers to prevent similar tragedies in the future.

As the 50th anniversary of Scott’s death approaches, it is important to remember his story and continue the conversation about racial bias and police violence. Only through open dialogue and efforts to address systemic issues can we hope to create a more just and equitable society for all..