Breonna Taylor’s murders are still free. The NFL has yet to hire Colin Kaepernick to join the league again but they are going to play the negro national anthem the 1st week of the NFL season instead of the star-spangled banner (yeaaa just the 1st week). George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks killers have been released from jail on bond. Cities and institutions are removing Confederate monuments and flags that contribute as symbols of racism but have yet to change the laws. Fortune 500 companies are “elevating” their diversity and inclusion incentives by making large donations to HBCU’s, “finally” hiring more people of color to sit at the table, making Juneteenth a company paid holiday, donating to black banks, removal of Facebook ads, but utilize the loopholes the government had for small businesses for themselves and using the Black Lives Matter movement as a marketing ploy. Karen’s and Bob’s continue to go wild with minor consequences; and we are still under a Global Pandemic.
Oh…. and there’s more. We have 6 people of color who have been “hanged” in public areas and the police call their deaths suicide attempts. What are the odds? As we continue to maneuver as a black community in these unprecedented times, before our very own eyes we are experiencing our own modern-day lunches.
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The history of lynching: How did lynching begin in the U.S.?
Before we get into the origin, let’s define the word lynch. The definition of lynching means (of a mob) killing someone especially by hanging; (v) an alleged offense without a legal trial to put to death (as by hanging) by mob action without legal approval or permission.
During the American Revolution in 1780, the term lynch became known. It was named after Colonel Charles Lynch who created the “Lynch Law”. He began this act by capturing loyalists, British tories, and other criminals who committed any crimes outside of the law. He and his associates took it up themselves to create a plantation of prisoners for criminals to lynch rather than have them face the royal court. Many white colonizers and plantation owners began implementing this law during the Revolutionary War on their slaves. After the war, lynching began to sweep across the south. Slave owners began to lynch their slaves when “they” felt slaves were being rebellious and when runaways got caught for fleeing.
Vigilantism continued as a movement as former slaves merged into the Reconstruction Era. Pissed by the rise of economic and political development from the emancipated slaves, many whites and southern states began to create more lynch mobs, black codes, and Jim Crow laws to limit the civil rights of African Americans. The feeling of the need to be in control made white people lynch black people for the most unlawful shit in America’s history. Looking at white women, false accusations of rape towards white women, killing hogs, not answering to the name “boy”, not answering to the name calling of “nigger”, the integration of black and white farmer unions, “whistling” at white women, and talks of integration in predominately white organizations were some of the things black people got lynched for. Lynches had become so common and lawful to oppose threat to blacks in America (the police and law enforcement were part of the majority of the mobs), that even Mark Twain describes the social climate of lynching to be barbaric and unlawful in an unreleased essay called The United States of Lyncherdom, “Why has lynching become a normalized crime in several parts of the country?”
From reconstruction to the civil rights era, lynching continued. Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi were the 4 major southern states that had the highest number of lynches. Even though it is noted that in the Civil Rights Era that the public display of watching black people being killed for entertainment was ended, it doesn’t specifically state the ending of the lynching era or racial violence. Moreso, the terrorist threat of killing blacks in America shifted into another trajectory.
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2020: Modern-Day Lynchings
In the last few months, it has been lightly reported the hanging of 6 people of color. It has also been reported these public hangings are suicide attempts but the timing, location, skin color, and investigation reports seem to say otherwise.
We are taking a trip to Cali. In Palmdale, California 24-year-old Robert Fuller was found hanging from a tree a few days after he attended a Black Lives Matter protest. As of July 9th, 2020, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s department has ruled his death as a suicide. It is stated that there’s no evidence of foul play or struggle to remove the rope from his neck, but the timing location and shady ass justice system doesn’t seem like a suicide. Many in our community are puzzled. Just 50 miles of Palmdale, Malcolm Harsch was found hanging in San Bernardino, Cali from a tree May 31st. It has been reported his death wasn’t a lynching but it was suicide attempt based on video footage. The general public seems to think otherwise.
As we continue to take a trip, let’s head down south, a 17-year old black boy was found hanging in the parking lot of Ehrhardt Elementary School in Spring, Texas. Even though Harris County Sheriff’s department indicated there was no foul play and think it was a suicide attempt based on the teen’s past experiences, the general public seem to think otherwise. According to the sheriff department, the investigation was thorough and it indicates it could be a suicide attempt; but autopsy reports have yet to confirm so. We as the general public are still awaiting those reports. On Ella Boulevard near the 1600 loop in Houston, Texas a Hispanic man was found hanging from a tree. The police have ruled the death as a suicide. Now regardless of police reports, the report isn’t based on an autopsy report or any thorough investigation. They haven’t stated if there was foul play or not, the only video footage they have is of a viral video but it doesn’t show him hanging himself, and they haven’t stated if they were doing an autopsy report on this man. Now both cases have been called on for federal investigation but as always there has been no follow-through since June. Two public hangings within close proximity of each other don’t just sound like a suicide attempt.
As we travel to the northeast, on June 9th Dominique Alexander was found dead in Manhattan Park. The medical examiner ruled his death as a suicide attempt, NYPD says the investigation of his death will be continued. Now we haven’t heard anything else about the investigation of his death since June. This continues to make many questions if his death was really a suicidal attempt. With no background history of mental health and being a lover of the community, do you really think he wanted to take his own life away? Now in Morris County, New Jersey, we have a 20-year old great student Amani Kildea. He was a high school athlete, a great kid in school and in the community. Kildea was found hanging in Morristown on June 28th. There was no evidence that indicated this his death was a suicide but Morris County police department ruled that was the cause of his death. Calls and petitions continue to pour in for Morris County to thoroughly investigate this case but they continue to give “little” to “none” information for fear of compromising the investigation.
Where do we go from here? (FBI Investigations)
As seen in history, the conviction and investigation rate for lynchings of people of color have been little to none. The investigations of the current hangings have easily been ruled out as suicide. The less aggressive approach to thoroughly provide information to the families of these people shows us the continuous lackluster efforts our justice system has for people of color. Instead of changing street signs, keeping the investigation ongoing, and using black lives matter as a marketing tool to gain revenue because we know yall fake care; the DOJ and FBI need to be held accountable for their efforts on cases such as these. We as a people need RESULTS and CONVICTION. Our efforts will not be in vain. As we continue to follow the investigation of each individual’s death, continue to call Morris County, Los Angeles County, New York City County, and Harris County on these investigations. Their deaths will not be dismissed and ruled out. We as a community will continue to activate our voices for them too.
Words by: Kinyana Mccoy
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