Home PoliticsAfrica News ‘Lynchings in Mississippi never stopped’

‘Lynchings in Mississippi never stopped’

by AfroWorldNews
Mourners pass Emmett Till's casket in Chicago on Sept. 3, 1955. Till, 14, was kidnapped, tortured and lynched by a White mob for whistling at a White woman in Mississippi.

JACKSON, Miss. — Since 2000, there have been at least eight suspected lynchings of Black men and teenagers in Mississippi, according to court records and police reports.

“The last recorded lynching in the United States was in 1981,” said Jill Collen Jefferson, a lawyer and founder of Julian, a civil rights organization named after the late civil rights leader Julian Bond. “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.”

Jefferson was born in Jones County, Miss., which was an epicenter of the Ku Klux Klan’s reign of terror during the civil rights movement. “Coming from Mississippi and seeing stuff intersect, talking about this stuff is like talking about what happened down the road,” said Jefferson, a Harvard Law School graduate who trained as a civil justice investigator with Bond.

In 2017, Jefferson began compiling records of Black people found hanging or mutilated across the country. In 2019, Jefferson began focusing her investigation on Mississippi. In each case she investigated, law enforcement officials ruled the deaths suicides, but the families said the victims had been lynched.

Historically, lynchings were often defined as fatal hangings by mobs, often acting with impunity and in an extrajudicial capacity to create racial terror. Crowds of White people often gathered in town squares or on courthouse lawns to watch Black people be lynched.

From 1877 to 1950, more than 4,000 Black men, women and children were lynched in cities and towns across the country, according to the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), a human rights organization based in Montgomery, Ala., which opened the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in 2018 to honor thousands of lynching victims. During that period, Mississippi recorded 581, the highest number of lynchings recorded by state.

Historians say lynchings often evoke the image of public hangings, however EJI and the NAACP expanded that definition to include any extrajudicial racial terror killing and mutilation committed to uphold racial segregation and a false premise of racial hierarchy.

The NAACP defines lynchings as “the public killing of an individual who has not received” due process under the law.

During her investigation focusing intensely on Mississippi, Jefferson began seeing patterns in the deaths and connecting the dots in recent cases of Black people found hanging.

“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.”

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