One of the most horrific acts of violence that our ancestors had to endure was the brutal practice of lynching. The reality that life could end in such a horrific way was very real for more people than we’d like to believe, with one report coming from the Equal Justice Initiative that lists more than 4,000 Black men, women and children who were lynched throughout the country from 1877 to 1950.
The real hot spot for hate, though, ended up being Mississippi, which tallied up 581 lynchings and set the record for any state in America.
As times have certainly changed since then and Black people have way more than their freedom now, unfortunately, we can’t say lynchings don’t still happen. To put that into more perspective, Mississippi reportedly is suspected of eight probable cases in just the past 20 years.
In a new report by The Washington Post, it’s pretty much believed that it never really stopped down in Mississippi. A private investigation by lawyer and civil rights activist Jill Collen Jefferson revealed that at least eight Black people have been lynched in the state since 2000. To make matters worse, each case of lynching she discovered saw the death ruled by the police as suicides, against what the family and loved ones of those deceased believed.
Here’s a case from just three years ago, via The Root:
“The most recent case of 35-year-old Deondrey Montreal Hopkins ended with local police saying that his death was not a homicide. Phillip Carroll, 22, was found hanging from a tree, in Jackson, Miss., May 28, 2018. His death was ruled a suicide. Otis Byrd, 55, was found hanging from a tree in Port Gibson, Miss., on March 19, 2015. His death was ruled a suicide. The FBI and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division conducted an investigation and found no foul play.”
While that might be a harsh reality to take in, it’s even harder knowing that something like that could very well be happening right now.
As Jefferson put it, “The last recorded lynching in the United States was in 1981. But the thing is, lynchings never stopped in the United States. Lynchings in Mississippi never stopped. The evil bastards just stopped taking photographs and passing them around like baseball cards.”
Not just Mississippi
Aside from the aforementioned confirmed lynchings in Mississippi, there was a troubling series of Black men found hanging across the country just last year alone.
Officials in Georgia determined back in December that the cause of death for a Black teenager found hanging over the weekend was suicide. Omari Bryant‘s family has maintained that the 18-year-old was not suicidal, however.
DeAndre Roberts, a 32-year-old father of 8, was found hanging in Grand Junction, Colorado, on Sept. 21. A GoFundMe account said, “Before the investigation was even complete, the police and coroner ruled it a suicide, even though there are several avenues that have not been pursued with the Investigation.”
In late June 2020, Amani Kildea was found hanging in New Jersey. According to an online petition, Kildea had everything to look forward to, including beginning college in Virginia and aspirations toward a career in federal law enforcement for which he had already laid a strong foundation. It was unclear why the death of Kildea — who was part of a social media-based group that identified and publicly outed the names of pedophiles — went “without investigation” and “was ruled a suicide,” according to the petition.
Earlier that same month, two other Black men just happened to be found hanging before their deaths were ruled suicides.
On June 10, 20-year-old Robert Fuller was found hanging from a tree near Palmdale City Hall in California. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau Department said that Fuller’s death appeared to be a suicide.
One day earlier, 27-year-old Dominique Alexander was found dead by a passerby near the Hudson River in New York City. He was also hanging from a tree. Authorities ruled his death a suicide.
In late May, Malcolm Harsch was found hanging in California about 50 miles away from where Fuller died. The 38-year-old was hanging from a tree near a homeless encampment.
This is America.
8 Suspected Lynchings In Mississippi Since 2000, Cops Routinely Rule Hanging Deaths As Suicides was originally published on blackamericaweb.com