Lynching

Lynching

Overview


Lynching is an extrajudicial execution carried out by a mob, often by hanging
Hanging
Hanging is the lethal suspension of a person by a ligature. The Oxford English Dictionary states that hanging in this sense is "specifically to put to death by suspension by the neck", though it formerly also referred to crucifixion and death by impalement in which the body would remain...

, but also by burning at the stake or shooting, in order to punish an alleged transgressor, or to intimidate, control, or otherwise manipulate a population of people. It is related to other means of social control that arise in communities, such as charivari
Charivari
Charivari is the term for a French folk custom in which the community gave a noisy, discordant mock serenade, also pounding on pots and pans, at the home of newlyweds. The loud, public ritual evolved to a form of social coercion, for instance, to force an as-yet-unmarried couple to wed...

, riding the rail
Riding the rail
Riding the rail was a punishment in Colonial America in which a man was made to straddle a fence rail held on the shoulders of at least two men, with other men on either side to keep him upright...

, and tarring and feathering
Tarring and feathering
Tarring and feathering is a physical punishment, used to enforce unofficial justice or revenge. It was used in feudal Europe and its colonies in the early modern period, as well as the early American frontier, mostly as a type of mob vengeance .-Description:In a typical tar-and-feathers attack, the...

. Lynchings have been more frequent in times of social and economic tension, and have often been the means used by the politically dominant population to oppress social challengers.

Violence in the United States against African Americans, especially in the South
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

, rose in the aftermath of the Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, after slavery had been abolished and recently freed black men were given the right to vote.
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Encyclopedia


Lynching is an extrajudicial execution carried out by a mob, often by hanging
Hanging
Hanging is the lethal suspension of a person by a ligature. The Oxford English Dictionary states that hanging in this sense is "specifically to put to death by suspension by the neck", though it formerly also referred to crucifixion and death by impalement in which the body would remain...

, but also by burning at the stake or shooting, in order to punish an alleged transgressor, or to intimidate, control, or otherwise manipulate a population of people. It is related to other means of social control that arise in communities, such as charivari
Charivari
Charivari is the term for a French folk custom in which the community gave a noisy, discordant mock serenade, also pounding on pots and pans, at the home of newlyweds. The loud, public ritual evolved to a form of social coercion, for instance, to force an as-yet-unmarried couple to wed...

, riding the rail
Riding the rail
Riding the rail was a punishment in Colonial America in which a man was made to straddle a fence rail held on the shoulders of at least two men, with other men on either side to keep him upright...

, and tarring and feathering
Tarring and feathering
Tarring and feathering is a physical punishment, used to enforce unofficial justice or revenge. It was used in feudal Europe and its colonies in the early modern period, as well as the early American frontier, mostly as a type of mob vengeance .-Description:In a typical tar-and-feathers attack, the...

. Lynchings have been more frequent in times of social and economic tension, and have often been the means used by the politically dominant population to oppress social challengers.

Violence in the United States against African Americans, especially in the South
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

, rose in the aftermath of the Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, after slavery had been abolished and recently freed black men were given the right to vote. Violence rose even more at the end of the century, after southern white Democrats regained their political power in the South in the 1870s. States passed new constitutions or legislation which effectively disfranchised most blacks and many poor whites, established segregation
Racial segregation
Racial segregation is the separation of humans into racial groups in daily life. It may apply to activities such as eating in a restaurant, drinking from a water fountain, using a public toilet, attending school, going to the movies, or in the rental or purchase of a home...

 of public facilities by race, and separated blacks from common public life and facilities. Nearly 3,500 African Americans were lynched in the United States between 1882 and 1968, mostly from 1882 to 1920.

Lynching during the 19th century in the United States, Britain and colonies, coincided with a period of violence which denied people participation in white-dominated society on the basis of race or gender after the Emancipation Act of 1833.

Today lynching is a felony
Felony
A felony is a serious crime in the common law countries. The term originates from English common law where felonies were originally crimes which involved the confiscation of a convicted person's land and goods; other crimes were called misdemeanors...

 in all states of the United States, defined by some codes of law as "Any act of violence inflicted by a mob upon the body of another person which results in the death of the person," with a 'mob
Crowd
A crowd is a large and definable group of people, while "the crowd" is referred to as the so-called lower orders of people in general...

' being defined as "the assemblage of two or more persons, without color or authority of law, for the premeditated purpose and with the premeditated intent of committing an act of violence upon the person of another." Lynching in the second degree is defined as "Any act of violence inflicted by a mob upon the body of another person and from which death does not result." To sustain a conviction for lynching, at least some evidence of premeditation must be produced, but "The common intent to do violence" may be formed before or during the assemblage."

Etymology


In the United States, the origin of the terms lynching and lynch law is traditionally attributed to a Virginia Quaker named Charles Lynch.
  • Charles Lynch (1736–1796), a Virginia planter and American Revolutionary who headed a county court in Virginia which punished Loyalist supporters of the British.


The following are several improbable suggested sources of the word's origin:
  • William Lynch (1742–1820) from Virginia claimed that the phrase was first used for a 1780 compact signed by him and his neighbors in Pittsylvania County.
  • James Lynch Fitzstephen from Galway
    Galway
    Galway or City of Galway is a city in County Galway, Republic of Ireland. It is the sixth largest and the fastest-growing city in Ireland. It is also the third largest city within the Republic and the only city in the Province of Connacht. Located on the west coast of Ireland, it sits on the...

    , Ireland, who was the Mayor of Galway
    Mayor of Galway
    The office of Mayor of Galway is an honorific title used by the of Galway City Council. The Council has jurisdiction throughout its administrative area which is the city of Galway – the largest city in the province of Connacht, in the Republic of Ireland. The office was originally established by a...

     when he hanged his own son from the balcony of his house after convicting him of the murder of a Spanish visitor in 1493.
  • Lingchi, a Chinese form of execution used from roughly AD 900 to 1905.
  • Archaic verb linch; to beat severely with a pliable instrument, to chastise or to maltreat.

United States




Lynching, as a form of punishment for presumed criminal offenses, performed by self-appointed commissions, mobs
Ochlocracy
Ochlocracy or mob rule is government by mob or a mass of people, or the intimidation of legitimate authorities.As a pejorative for majoritarianism, it is akin to the Latin phrase mobile vulgus meaning "the fickle crowd", from which the English term "mob" was originally derived in the...

, or vigilantes without due process
Due process
Due process is the legal code that the state must venerate all of the legal rights that are owed to a person under the principle. Due process balances the power of the state law of the land and thus protects individual persons from it...

 of law took place in the United States before the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 and afterwards, from southern states to western frontier settlements. The term "Lynch's Law" (and subsequently "lynch law" and "lynching") apparently originated during the American Revolution
American Revolution
The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...

 when Charles Lynch, a Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

 justice of the peace
Justice of the Peace
A justice of the peace is a puisne judicial officer elected or appointed by means of a commission to keep the peace. Depending on the jurisdiction, they might dispense summary justice or merely deal with local administrative applications in common law jurisdictions...

, ordered extralegal punishment for Tory
Loyalist (American Revolution)
Loyalists were American colonists who remained loyal to the Kingdom of Great Britain during the American Revolutionary War. At the time they were often called Tories, Royalists, or King's Men. They were opposed by the Patriots, those who supported the revolution...

 acts. In the South
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

, members of the abolitionist movement or other people opposing slavery
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

 were usually targets of lynch mob violence before the Civil War. During the war, Southern Home Guard
Confederate Home Guard
The Confederate Home Guard was a somewhat loosely organized militia that was under the direction and authority of the Confederate States of America, working in coordination with the Confederate Army, and was tasked with both the defense of the Confederate home front during the American Civil War,...

 units sometimes lynched white Southerners whom they suspected of being Unionists or deserters; one example of this was the hanging of Methodist minister Bill Sketoe
Bill Sketoe
William "Bill" Sketoe, Sr. was a Methodist minister from the south Alabama town of Newton, whose lynching there on December 3, 1864 gave birth to one of Alabama's best known ghost stories...

 in the south Alabama town of Newton
Newton, Alabama
Newton is a town in Dale County, Alabama, United States. At the 2000 census its population was 1,708. Once the county seat of Dale County, Newton lost this distinction to nearby Ozark in 1870, and is now a small farming community. The city currently forms a part of the Enterprise-Ozark...

 in December 1864.

After the war, southern whites struggled to maintain social dominance. Secret vigilante and insurgent groups such as the Ku Klux Klan
Ku Klux Klan
Ku Klux Klan, often abbreviated KKK and informally known as the Klan, is the name of three distinct past and present far-right organizations in the United States, which have advocated extremist reactionary currents such as white supremacy, white nationalism, and anti-immigration, historically...

 (KKK) instigated extrajudicial assaults and killings to keep power and to discourage freedmen from voting, working and getting educated. They also sometimes attacked Northerners, teachers, and agents of the Freedmen's Bureau. A study of the period of 1868 to 1871 estimates that the KKK was involved in more than 400 lynchings. The aftermath of the war was a period of upheaval and social turmoil, in which most of the white men had been war veterans. Mobs usually had alleged crimes for which they lynched blacks. In the late 19th century, however, journalist Ida B. Wells
Ida B. Wells
Ida Bell Wells-Barnett was an African American journalist, newspaper editor and, with her husband, newspaper owner Ferdinand L. Barnett, an early leader in the civil rights movement. She documented lynching in the United States, showing how it was often a way to control or punish blacks who...

 showed that many presumed crimes were exaggerated or did not occur.

Not all lynchings in the United States were targeted against African Americans. Between 1882 and 1968, the Tuskegee Institute recorded 1,297 lynchings of whites as well as the 3,446 lynchings of African Americans during that period. By the 1890s and after the turn of the century, the vast majority of those lynched were Black people, including at least 159 women. Lynchings of other minority members, such as Mexicans and Chinese, have been shown to have been undercounted in the Tuskegee Institute's records.

Mob violence arose as a means of enforcing white supremacy
White supremacy
White supremacy is the belief, and promotion of the belief, that white people are superior to people of other racial backgrounds. The term is sometimes used specifically to describe a political ideology that advocates the social and political dominance by whites.White supremacy, as with racial...

 and verged on systematic political terrorism. "The Ku Klux Klan
Ku Klux Klan
Ku Klux Klan, often abbreviated KKK and informally known as the Klan, is the name of three distinct past and present far-right organizations in the United States, which have advocated extremist reactionary currents such as white supremacy, white nationalism, and anti-immigration, historically...

, paramilitary
Paramilitary
A paramilitary is a force whose function and organization are similar to those of a professional military, but which is not considered part of a state's formal armed forces....

 groups, and other whites united by frustration and anger ruthlessly defended the interests of white supremacy. The magnitude of extralegal violence during election campaigns reached epidemic proportions, leading the historian William Gillette
William Gillette
William Hooker Gillette was an American actor, playwright and stage-manager in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries who is best remembered today for portraying Sherlock Holmes....

 to label it guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare and refers to conflicts in which a small group of combatants including, but not limited to, armed civilians use military tactics, such as ambushes, sabotage, raids, the element of surprise, and extraordinary mobility to harass a larger and...

."

During Reconstruction, the Ku Klux Klan and others used lynching as a means to control African Americans, forcing them to work for planters and preventing them from exercising their right to vote. Federal troops and courts enforcing the Civil Rights Act of 1871
Civil Rights Act of 1871
The Civil Rights Act of 1871, , enacted April 20, 1871, is a federal law in force in the United States. The Act was originally enacted a few years after the American Civil War, along with the 1870 Force Act. One of the chief reasons for its passage was to protect southern blacks from the Ku Klux...

 largely broke up the Reconstruction-era Klan.

By the end of Reconstruction in 1877, with fraud, intimidation and violence at the polls, white Democrats regained nearly total control of the state legislatures across the South. They passed laws to make voter registration more complicated, reducing black voters on the rolls. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, from 1890 to 1908, ten of eleven Southern legislatures ratified new constitutions and amendments to effectively disfranchise most African Americans and many poor whites through devices such as poll taxes, property and residency requirements, and literacy tests. Although required of all voters, some provisions were selectively applied against African Americans. In addition, many states passed grandfather clauses to exempt white illiterates from literacy tests for a limited period. The result was that black voters were stripped from registration rolls and without political recourse. Since they could not vote, they could not serve on juries. They were without official political voice.

The ideology behind lynching, directly connected with denial of political and social equality, was stated forthrightly by Benjamin Tillman
Benjamin Tillman
Benjamin Ryan Tillman was an American politician who served as the 84th Governor of South Carolina, from 1890 to 1894, and as a United States Senator, from 1895 until his death in office. Tillman's views were a matter of national controversy.Tillman was a member of the Democratic Party...

, governor of South Carolina
Governor of South Carolina
The Governor of the State of South Carolina is the head of state for the State of South Carolina. Under the South Carolina Constitution, the Governor is also the head of government, serving as the chief executive of the South Carolina executive branch. The Governor is the ex officio...

 and later a United States Senator
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

:
Lynchings declined briefly after the takeover in the 1870s. By the end of the 19th century, with struggles over labor and disfranchisement, and continuing agricultural depression, lynchings rose again. The number of lynchings peaked at the end of the 19th century, but these kinds of murders continued into the 20th century. Tuskegee Institute records of lynchings between the years 1880 and 1951 show 3,437 African-American victims, as well as 1,293 white victims. Lynchings were concentrated in the Cotton Belt
Cotton Belt (region)
Cotton Belt is a term applied to a region of the southern United States where cotton was the predominant cash crop from the late 18th century into the 20th century....

: (Mississippi
Mississippi
Mississippi is a U.S. state located in the Southern United States. Jackson is the state capital and largest city. The name of the state derives from the Mississippi River, which flows along its western boundary, whose name comes from the Ojibwe word misi-ziibi...

, Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

, Alabama
Alabama
Alabama is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama ranks 30th in total land area and ranks second in the size of its inland...

, Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 and Louisiana
Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

).

African Americans resisted through protests, marches, lobbying Congress, writing of articles, rebuttals of so-called justifications of lynching, organizing women's groups against lynching, and organizing integrated groups against lynching. African-American playwrights produced 14 anti-lynching plays between 1916 and 1935, ten of them by women.

After the 1915 release of the movie The Birth of a Nation
The Birth of a Nation
The Birth of a Nation is a 1915 American silent film directed by D. W. Griffith and based on the novel and play The Clansman, both by Thomas Dixon, Jr. Griffith also co-wrote the screenplay , and co-produced the film . It was released on February 8, 1915...

, which glorified lynching and the Reconstruction-era Klan, the Klan re-formed. Unlike in its earlier form, it was heavily represented among urban populations, especially in the Midwest. In response to massive immigration of people from southern and eastern Europe, the Klan had an anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic
Catholic
The word catholic comes from the Greek phrase , meaning "on the whole," "according to the whole" or "in general", and is a combination of the Greek words meaning "about" and meaning "whole"...

 and anti-Jewish stance, in addition to exercising oppression of blacks.

Members of mobs that participated in lynchings often took photographs of what they had done to spread awareness and fear of their power. Some of those photographs were published and sold as postcards. In 2000, James Allen
James Allen (collector)
James Allen is an American antique collector, known in particular for his collection of 145 photographs of lynchings in America, published in 2000 with Jon Lewis as Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America...

 published a collection of 145 lynching photos in book form and online, with written words and video to accompany the images.

Dyer Bill


The Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill
Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill
The Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill, introduced by Representative Leonidas C. Dyer, a Republican from Saint Louis, Missouri, in the US House of Representatives in 1918, was directed at punishing lynchings and mob violence....

 was first introduced to United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 in 1918 by Republican
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 Congressman Leonidas C. Dyer
Leonidas C. Dyer
Leonidas Carstarphen Dyer was an American politician, reformer, civil rights activist, and military officer who served 11 terms in the U.S. Congress as a Republican Representative from Missouri from 1911 to 1933. In 1898 enrolling in the U.S...

 of Missouri
Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

. The bill was passed by the United States House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

 in 1922 and in the same year given a favorable report by the United States Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 Committee. Passage was blocked by white Democratic senators from the Solid South
Solid South
Solid South is the electoral support of the Southern United States for the Democratic Party candidates for nearly a century from 1877, the end of Reconstruction, to 1964, during the middle of the Civil Rights era....

, the only representatives elected since southern states disfranchised African Americans at the turn of the century. The Dyer Bill influenced later anti-lynching legislation, including the Costigan-Wagner Bill.

The Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill as it appeared in 1922 stated: "To assure to persons within the jurisdiction of every State the equal protection of the laws, and to punish the crime of lynching.... Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the phrase 'mob or riotous assemblage,' when used in this act, shall mean an assemblage composed of three or more persons acting in concert for the purpose of depriving any person of his life without authority of law as a punishment for or to prevent the commission of some actual or supposed public offense."

Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith



Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith, both African Americans, were lynched on August 7, 1930 in Marion, Indiana
Marion, Indiana
Marion is a city in Grant County, Indiana, United States. The population was 29,948 as of the 2010 census. The city is the county seat of Grant County...

. They had been arrested the night before on charges of robbing and murdering a white factory worker and raping his girlfriend. A large crowd broke into the jail with sledgehammers, beat the men, and hanged them. Police officers in the crowd cooperated in the lynching. A third person, 16-year-old James Cameron, escaped lynching due to the intervention of an unidentified member of the crowd who announced that he had nothing to do with the rape or murder. A studio photographer, Lawrence Beitler
Lawrence Beitler
Lawrence Beitler was a studio photographer who on August 7, 1930, took a photograph of the lynching of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith. The photograph later sold thousands of copies and inspired the political poem "Strange Fruit" by the Jewish poet Abel Meeropol. The poem was later transformed into...

, took a photograph of the dead bodies hanging from a tree surrounded by a large crowd; thousands of copies of the photograph were sold. The event is notable as the last confirmed lynching of blacks in the Northern United States
Northern United States
Northern United States, also sometimes the North, may refer to:* A particular grouping of states or regions of the United States of America. The United States Census Bureau divides some of the northernmost United States into the Midwest Region and the Northeast Region...

.

America's Black Holocaust Museum


The museum's founding date is given in the AP interview/article by Sharon Cohen, which appeared in the Standard-Times on February 17, 2003, and is quoted in the IDS interview, see above. Cameron's position as Founder and Director is also mentioned in the Little review cited earlier and in other sources.

"Strange Fruit"


In 1937 Abel Meeropol
Abel Meeropol
Abel Meeropol was an American writer and song-writer, best known under his pseudonym Lewis Allan and as the adoptive father of the young sons of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.-Biography:...

, a Jewish schoolteacher from New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

, saw a copy of the photograph of the Marion lynching. Meeropol later said that the photograph "haunted me for days" and inspired his writing the poem "Strange Fruit
Strange Fruit
"Strange Fruit" is a song performed most famously by Billie Holiday, who released her first recording of it in 1939, the year she first sang it. Written by the teacher Abel Meeropol as a poem, it exposed American racism, particularly the lynching of African Americans. Such lynchings had occurred...

". It was published in the New York Teacher and later in the magazine New Masses, in both cases under the pseudonym Lewis Allan. This poem became the lyrics for the song of the same name, also written by Meeropol, performed and popularized by Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday was an American jazz singer and songwriter. Nicknamed "Lady Day" by her friend and musical partner Lester Young, Holiday had a seminal influence on jazz and pop singing...

. The song reached 16th place on the charts in July 1939.

Decline


The frequency of lynching dropped in the 1930s. Lynch law declined sharply by the 1950s. Most but not all lynchings ceased during the 1960s.

Civil rights law


The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees persons the right against unreasonable searches or seizures. Under the "color of law", a law enforcement official—under certain circumstances—is allowed to stop people and search them and retain their property if necessary. Abuse of this discretionary power is a violation of a person's civil rights
Civil rights
Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals' freedom from unwarranted infringement by governments and private organizations, and ensure one's ability to participate in the civil and political life of the state without discrimination or repression.Civil rights include...

. Unlawful detention or illegal confiscation of property are examples of such abuse. In deprivation of property, the color of law statute is violated by unlawfully obtaining or maintaining the property of another person. Fabricating evidence or conducting false arrest is a violation of a person's rights of unreasonable seizure and due process. The Fourteenth Amendment
Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted on July 9, 1868, as one of the Reconstruction Amendments.Its Citizenship Clause provides a broad definition of citizenship that overruled the Dred Scott v...

 of the U.S. Constitution secures the right to due process. The Eighth Amendment
Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution is the part of the United States Bill of Rights which prohibits the federal government from imposing excessive bail, excessive fines or cruel and unusual punishments. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that this amendment's Cruel and Unusual...

 prohibits the use of cruel and unusual punishment. These rights prohibit the use of force in an arrest or detention context which would amount to punishment or summary judgment and provide that a person accused of a crime is not subject to punishment without legal process and a trial.

Title 18, U.S.C., Section 241, is the civil rights conspiracy statute, which makes it unlawful for two or more persons to conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person of any state, territory, or district in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him/her by the Constitution or the laws of the United States, (or because of his/her having exercised the same) and further makes it unlawful for two or more persons to go in disguise on the highway or premises of another person with intent to prevent or hinder his or her free exercise or enjoyment of such rights. Depending upon the circumstances of the crime, and any resulting injury, the offense is punishable by a range of fines and/or imprisonment for any term of years up to life, or the death penalty.

Europe


In Britain, a series of race riots broke out in several cities in 1919 between whites and black sailors. In Liverpool
Liverpool
Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England, along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary. It was founded as a borough in 1207 and was granted city status in 1880...

, after a black sailor had been stabbed by two whites in a pub, his friends attacked the pub in revenge. In response, the police raided lodging houses with black occupants, accompanied by an "enraged lynch mob". Charles Wootton, a young black seaman who had not been involved in the attacks, was chased into the river Mersey
Mersey
Mersey may refer to:* River Mersey, in northwest England* Mersea Island, off the coast of Essex in England * Mersey River in the Australian state* Electoral division of Mersey in the state of Tasmania, Australian...

 and drowned after being pelted with missiles thrown by the mob, who chanted "Let him drown!" The Charles Wootton College in Liverpool was named in his memory.

In 1944, Wolfgang Rosterg, a German prisoner of war
Prisoner of war
A prisoner of war or enemy prisoner of war is a person, whether civilian or combatant, who is held in custody by an enemy power during or immediately after an armed conflict...

 known to be unsympathetic to the Nazi
Nazism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

 regime, was lynched by Nazis in POW
Prisoner of war
A prisoner of war or enemy prisoner of war is a person, whether civilian or combatant, who is held in custody by an enemy power during or immediately after an armed conflict...

 Camp 21 in Comrie
Comrie
Comrie is an affluent village and parish in the southern highlands of Scotland, towards the western end of the Strathearn district of Perth and Kinross, seven miles west of Crieff. The village has won the Royal Horticultural Society "Large Village Britain in Bloom Winner" in 2007 and 2010...

, Scotland. After the end of the war
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 five of the perpetrators were hanged
Hanging
Hanging is the lethal suspension of a person by a ligature. The Oxford English Dictionary states that hanging in this sense is "specifically to put to death by suspension by the neck", though it formerly also referred to crucifixion and death by impalement in which the body would remain...

 at Pentonville
Pentonville (HM Prison)
HM Prison Pentonville is a Category B/C men's prison, operated by Her Majesty's Prison Service. Pentonville Prison is not actually within Pentonville itself, but is located further north, on the Caledonian Road in the Barnsbury area of the London Borough of Islington, in inner-North London,...

 Prison – the largest multiple execution in 20th century Britain. There are also approximately 150 confirmed cases of surviving crew members of crashed allied aircraft (esp. bombers) being lynched by German civilians, soldiers, policemen or paramilitaries in revenge for what Nazi propagandists termed "Allied terror bombing
Strategic bombing during World War II
Strategic bombing during World War II is a term which refers to all aerial bombardment of a strategic nature between 1939 and 1945 involving any nations engaged in World War II...

" (Alliierter Bombenterror). This was further promoted by Nazi officials through secret orders that prohibited policemen and soldiers from interfering in favor of the enemy in conflicts between civilians and allies forces, or prosecuting civilians who engaged in such acts.

Mexico


On November 23, 2004, in the Tlahuac lynching, three Mexican undercover federal agents doing a narcotics investigation were lynched in the town of San Juan Ixtayopan
Tláhuac
Tláhuac is one of the 16 delegaciones into which Mexico's Federal District is divided. It is located on the east edge of the district and is largely rural in character. The main town, San Pedro Tláhuac, is situated alongside a lake, and is the site of a 16th century church. The borough had a 2010...

 (Mexico City) by an angry crowd who saw them taking photographs and suspected they were trying to abduct children from a primary school. The agents identified themselves immediately but were held and beaten for several hours before two of them were killed and set on fire. The incident was covered by the media almost from the beginning, including their pleas for help and their murder.

By the time police rescue units arrived, two of the agents were reduced to charred corpses and the third was seriously injured. Authorities suspect the lynching was provoked by the persons being investigated.

Both local and federal authorities abandoned them to their fate, saying the town was too far away to even try to arrive in time and some officials stating they would provoke a massacre if they tried to rescue them from the mob.

Guatemala


A young Guatemalan woman, Alejandra Maria Torres, was lynched by a mob in Guatemala City
Guatemala City
Guatemala City , is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Guatemala and Central America...

 on December 15, 2009. The mob alleged that Torres had attempted to rob passengers on a bus. Torres was beaten, doused with gasoline, and set on fire, but was able to put the fire out before sustaining life-threatening burns. Police intervened and arrested Torres. Torres was forced to go topless throughout the ordeal and subsequent arrest, and many photographs were taken and published. Approximately 219 people were lynched in Guatemala in 2009, of whom 45 died.

Dominican Republic


According to an Amnesty International
Amnesty International
Amnesty International is an international non-governmental organisation whose stated mission is "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated."Following a publication of Peter Benenson's...

 report, lynchings of Haitians and Dominicans accused of various crimes, ranging from theft to murder, have continued to occur as late as 2006.

Haiti


After the 2010 earthquake
2010 Haiti earthquake
The 2010 Haiti earthquake was a catastrophic magnitude 7.0 Mw earthquake, with an epicentre near the town of Léogâne, approximately west of Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital. The earthquake occurred at 16:53 local time on Tuesday, 12 January 2010.By 24 January, at least 52 aftershocks...

 slow distribution of relief supplies and the large number of affected people created concerns of civil unrest, marked by looting
Looting
Looting —also referred to as sacking, plundering, despoiling, despoliation, and pillaging—is the indiscriminate taking of goods by force as part of a military or political victory, or during a catastrophe, such as during war, natural disaster, or rioting...

 and mob justice against suspected looters.

South Africa



The practice of whipping and necklacing
Necklacing
Necklacing is the practice of summary execution and torture carried out by forcing a rubber tyre, filled with petrol, around a victim's chest and arms, and setting it on fire...

 offenders and political opponents evolved in the 1980s during the apartheid era in South Africa. Residents of black townships formed "people's courts" to terrorize fellow blacks who were seen as collaborators of the government using whip lashings and deaths by necklacing. Necklacing is the torture
Torture
Torture is the act of inflicting severe pain as a means of punishment, revenge, forcing information or a confession, or simply as an act of cruelty. Throughout history, torture has often been used as a method of political re-education, interrogation, punishment, and coercion...

 and execution of victims by igniting a kerosene-filled rubber tire that has been forced around the victim's chest and arms. Necklacing was used to punish victims, including children, who were alleged to be traitors to the black liberation movement and relatives and associates of the offenders. Sometimes the "people's courts" made mistakes, or used the system to punish those to whom leaders were opposed. There was tremendous controversy when the practice was endorsed by Winnie Mandela, then the wife of the imprisoned Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999, and was the first South African president to be elected in a fully representative democratic election. Before his presidency, Mandela was an anti-apartheid activist, and the leader of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing...

 and a senior member of the African National Congress
African National Congress
The African National Congress is South Africa's governing Africanist political party, supported by its tripartite alliance with the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the South African Communist Party , since the establishment of non-racial democracy in April 1994. It defines itself as a...

.

More recently, drug dealers and other gang members have been lynched by People Against Gangsterism and Drugs
People Against Gangsterism and Drugs
People Against Gangsterism and Drugs was formed in 1996 as an Islamically-oriented, militant group in the Cape Flats area of Cape Town, South Africa. It claims to fight drugs and gangsterism but its members have been implicated in several criminal and terrorist acts.-Origins:PAGAD grew as an...

, a Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 vigilante organization.

India



In India, lynchings generally reflect tensions between numerous ethnic groups and caste
Caste
Caste is an elaborate and complex social system that combines elements of endogamy, occupation, culture, social class, tribal affiliation and political power. It should not be confused with race or social class, e.g. members of different castes in one society may belong to the same race, as in India...

s in the country. Typically, lynchings involve upper-caste members attacking lower caste members. However, recent examples include the Kherlanji massacre
Kherlanji massacre
The Kherlanji massacre refers to the 2006 lynching-style murders of a Dalit family by members of the politically dominant, but backward Kunbi caste. The killings took place in a small village in India named Khairlanji, located in the Bhandara district of the state of Maharashtra...

, where low castes were lynched by other low castes. India has a large scale affirmative action programme
Reservation in India
Reservation in India is a form of affirmative action designed to improve the well being of socially backward and underrepresented communities of citizens in India. There are laws in place, wherein a certain percentage of total available slots in Jobs and Education are set aside for people from...

 for the emancipation of the lower castes. Sociologists and social scientists reject the identification of caste with racial discrimination and attribute it to intra-racial ethno-cultural conflict.
Also see Bhutter Tragedy in Punjab.

West Bank and Gaza Strip


Palestinian lynch mobs have murdered Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel. According to a Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch is an international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. Its headquarters are in New York City and it has offices in Berlin, Beirut, Brussels, Chicago, Geneva, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, Paris, San Francisco, Tokyo,...

 report from 2001:
In the 2000 Ramallah lynching, a Palestinian mob beat to death two Israeli reservists who had entered the city.

See also



Sources and external links




Books and articles

  • Allen, James (editor), Hilton Als, John Lewis, and Leon F. Litwack. Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America (Twin Palms Pub: 2000) ISBN 0-944092-69-1 accompanied by an online photographic survey of the history of lynchings in the United States
  • Bancroft, H. H., Popular Tribunals (2 vols., San Francisco, 1887)
  • Bernstein, Patricia, The First Waco Horror: The Lynching of Jesse Washington and the Rise of the NAACP, Texas A&M University Press (March, 2005), hardcover, ISBN 1-58544-416-2
  • Brundage, W. Fitzhugh, Lynching in the New South: Georgia and Virginia, 1880-1930, Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, (1993), ISBN 0-252-06345-7
  • Barry A. Crouch, "A Spirit of Lawlessness: White violence, Texas Blacks, 1865-1868," Journal of Social History 18 (Winter 1984): 217–26
  • Cutler, James E., Lynch-Law: An Investigation Into the History of Lynching in the United States (New York, 1905)
  • Dray, Philip, At the Hands of Persons Unknown: The Lynching of Black America, New York: Random House (2002). Hardcover ISBN 0-375-50324-2, softcover ISBN 0-375-75445-8
  • Eric Foner
    Eric Foner
    Eric Foner is an American historian. On the faculty of the Department of History at Columbia University since 1982, he writes extensively on political history, the history of freedom, the early history of the Republican Party, African American biography, Reconstruction, and historiography...

    , Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877. 119–23.
  • Finley, Keith M. Delaying the Dream: Southern Senators and the Fight Against Civil Rights, 1938-1965 (Baton Rouge, LSU Press, 2008).
  • Ginzburg, Ralph 100 Years Of Lynchings, Black Classic Press (1962, 1988) softcover, ISBN 0-933121-18-0
  • Ifill, Sherrilyn A., On the Courthouse Lawn: Confronting the Legacy of Lynching in the 21st century Beacon Press (2007) ISBN 978-0807009871 Law professor at University of Maryland reports on the lynchings of George Armwood and Matthew Williams in coastal Maryland in the 1930s; investigates how the lynchings implicated average white citizens, some of whom actively participated in the violence, while many others witnessed the lynchings but did nothing to stop them; provides concrete ideas to help communities heal.
  • Nevels, Cynthia Skove, Lynching to Belong: claiming Whiteness though racial violence, Texas A&M Press, 2007, ISBN 978-1-58544-589-9
  • Stagg, J.C.A. "The Problem of Klan Violence: The South Carolina Upcountry, 1868-1871," Journal of American Studies 8 (December 1974): 303–18
  • Tolnay, Stewart E. and E.M. Beck, A Festival of Violence: An Analysis of Southern Lynchings, 1882-1930, Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, (1995), ISBN 0-252-06413-5
  • Trelease, Allen W., White Terror: The Ku Klux Klan Conspiracy and Southern Reconstruction Harper & Row, 1979
  • Wells-Barnett, Ida B.
    Ida B. Wells
    Ida Bell Wells-Barnett was an African American journalist, newspaper editor and, with her husband, newspaper owner Ferdinand L. Barnett, an early leader in the civil rights movement. She documented lynching in the United States, showing how it was often a way to control or punish blacks who...

    , 1900 Mob Rule in New Orleans Robert Charles and His Fight to Death, the Story of His Life, Burning Human Beings Alive, Other Lynching Statistics Gutenberg eBook
  • Wells-Barnett, Ida B., 1895 Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in all its Phases Gutenberg eBook
  • Wood, Amy Louise, "They Never Witnessed Such a Melodrama", Southern Spaces, 27 April 2009.
  • Wood, Joe, Ugly Water, St. Louis: Lulu (2006). Softcover ISBN 978-1-4116-2218-0