There is no more blatant form of racial intimidation against a Black person that one can use than that of a noose. The practice of lynching was used against enslaved Black people, but it was an especially popular form of violence against Black Americans after slavery ended.
It is considered a more dated form of violence today, but a story in the Washington Post reports that the practice of lynching never truly stopped.
Jill Collen Jefferson, a lawyer and founder of Julian, a civil rights organization named after the late civil rights leader Julian Bond, has been conducting her own research into lynching in Mississippi and found that at least eight Black people have been lynched in the state since 2000. She began her research into lynchings across the country in 2017 and focused on Mississippi, her home state, in 2019. In each case of lynching she discovered, Jefferson said the police ruled the deaths suicides, but the families of the deceased said their loved ones were lynched.
“There is a pattern to how these cases are investigated,” Jefferson said. “When authorities arrive on the scene of a hanging, it’s treated as a suicide almost immediately. The crime scene is not preserved. The investigation is shoddy. And then there is a formal ruling of suicide, despite evidence to the contrary. And the case is never heard from again unless someone brings it up.”
Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), a human rights organization based in Montgomery, Ala., reports more than 4,000 Black men, women and children were lynched in cities and towns across the country from 1877 to 1950, per the Post. During that time frame, Mississippi recorded 581, which was the highest number of lynchings on record by any state.
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.
You see where this is going.
The bottom line is that lynching is still a tool of racist attack against Black folks and we are fooling ourselves if we think the practice died with the ending of Jim Crow.
“The last recorded lynching in the United States was in 1981,” Jefferson said. “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.”