A 21st-century lynching?
by Tom Sullivan
Questions surrounding the August hanging death of Lennon Lacy, 17, of Bladenboro, NC have been percolating since the summer. With fall election campaigns and higher-profile deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of police, the black teenager's hanging death, quickly ruled a suicide, went largely unnoticed outside North Carolina. But Lacy's family did not accept the official conclusion that the youth killed himself. Lacy was found hanging by a dog leash wearing someone else's shoes. Two sizes too small:
Days after he was buried, Lennon's grave was defiled - an act of vandalism that Lennon's family believes supports their claim that he was killed in a racially-motivated homicide.After calls from the North Carolina NAACP and Lacy's family, the FBI has stepped in:
Lacy's mother, Claudia, wants answers. She tells the Guardian's Ed Pilkington that her son was involved with an older white woman. Black men were lynched for less back in the day.
The FBI will investigate the case of Lennon Lacy, the black teenager found hanging in August from a swing set in North Carolina, whose parents have disputed the official ruling that he killed himself and asked whether his death amounted to a modern-day lynching.
It was confirmed on Friday that a federal agent has been assigned to investigate what happened to Lacy, 17, a budding high-school football prospect found hanging in the middle of a predominantly white trailer park in Bladenboro, North Carolina, on 29 August. The move follows a formal request from the Lacy family and from the North Carolina branch of the NAACP to the US attorney asking for the federal authorities to throw their weight behind the investigation.
Moral Mondays organizer, NC NAACP President Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, welcomed the FBI investigation:
We are glad to hear that the request made by the North Carolina NAACP and the family of Lennon Lacy for a federal investigation has been accepted. There must be a thorough investigation. There are too many questions and contradictions raised by our independent pathology report and stories in the community about the facts, quick conclusions, and how the death scene was not protected to leave this case unprobed and unevaluated.
I have never been to Bladenboro, NC, but have spent enough decades in the Carolinas to know about other out-of-the-way places such as this stretch of country road in South Carolina. The locals prominently display these cultural artifacts on poles right beside the road to let outsiders know just who is whom and what is what. My guess is the Lacy family wouldn't feel too at home there.