Sunday, July 14, 2013


1920—Ocoee, Florida. Vigilantes shot and lynched Julius “July” Perry for the crime of harboring Mose Norman, a black man who attempted voting in the presidential election. Residents found Perry’s body hanging from a highway telephone pole. The mob set fire to the black homes in Ocoee, shooting the survivors as they ran from the flames. Bullets or burning kill approximately 56 people. Violence and intimidation eventually drove every black family from the town. White residents seized their abandoned properties. The remaining citizens of Ocoee sold pictures of the dead for two bits a piece. The perpetrators of the massacre were never charged with any crime. []

1922—Perry, Florida. Charles Wright was accused of killing a white school teacher. Before a trial could take place, a mob stormed the prison, tortured a confession from Wright, then burned him at the stake. The mob then lynched two more men and razed the black homes and businesses of Perry. None of the mob were ever brought to justice. []

1923—Rosewood, Florida. A group of vigilantes, some deputized by the county sheriff, descended on the town and unleashed a hellstorm after a white woman alleged assault by an unknown black man. Among others, 50-year-old Lexie Gordon was shot in the face and killed when she fled her burning home. People came from all over the state to participate in the destruction. The public outcry was enormous, and a grand jury was convened. They claimed insufficient evidence for prosecution and no one was ever arrested in connection with the 8-27 people killed. None of the black residents ever returned. Today, Rosewood is a ghost town. []

1935—Fort Lauderdale, Florida. A black migrant worker named Rubin Stacy was lynched by a white mob outside the home of a white woman who filed a complaint against the drifter. His crime? Frightening the owner of the house, Marion Jones, when he knocked on the door asking for food. Photographs of the lynching were taken in which the faces of the perpetrators were clearly visible. No one was prosecuted. []

1944—Quincy, Florida. Three men, Fred Lane (19) James Davis (16), and James Williams (26), “were arrested and charged with kidnapping, raping, and shooting a twenty-year-old white wife of an army sergeant. Desperate to prevent racial violence, the governor, Spessard Holland, took extra precautions to make sure the three were given proper justice. They received a fair trial, in which an all white jury deliberated for a total of 8 minutes before returning a guilty verdict. Less than three months later, the men were electrocuted by the state of Florida. []

1946—Suwannee County, Florida. The Civil Rights section of The US Department of Justice won their first lynching conviction. Tom Crews was convicted of violating the civil rights of a farm worker, “Sam McFadden, a black WWII army veteran… [i]n retaliation for what he viewed as disrespect, Crews whipped McFadden and then forced him to jump at gunpoint in to the Suwannee River where he drowned.” Crews was fined $1,000 ($11,945.90) and sentenced to 1 year in prison only after being acquitted by a local court and re-tried by the feds. []

1949—Groveland, Florida. While transporting two black prisoners (Sammy Shepard, Walter Irvin), whose convictions for murder had been overturned by the Supreme Court of the United States, Sheriff Willis McCall stopped his police car, pulled the men out, and shot them in "self defense". Irvin, who was still alive but pretending to be dead, heard the McCall radio for help, claiming the prisoners had overpowered him and tried to escape. Sammy Shepard died from his wounds. []

1952—The United States celebrates its first year without a lynching since the 1880s.

1967—Tampa, Florida. Police shoot unarmed 19-year-old Martin Chambers in the back as he fled the scene of a robbery. State prosecutors rule the shooting justified. []

1980—Miami, Florida. Arthur McDuffie leads police on a high speed motorcycle chase through residential streets. After crashing the bike and attempting to flee on foot, five white and Latino police officers choke and beat McDuffie, an insurance salesman, into unconsciousness on the pretext that he was resisting arrest. They then run over McDuffie’s motorcycle with a patrol car and claim his injuries were caused by a collision. After receiving immunity from prosecution, Officer Ubaldo Del Toro alleged that the high speed chase had already ended, and McDuffie had his hands in the air saying "I give up", when he was surrounded by “three to eight” police officers who proceeded to remove his helmet and beat him with clubs and flashlights. All officers are acquitted. []

1989—Tampa, Florida. Police choked suspected drug dealer Edgar Allen Price into submission at which point he was handcuffed, hogtied, and thrown face down into the back of a patrol car. A crowd pelted the arresting officers, and their car, with bottles and rocks. Price died a few hours later. The officers were cleared of any wrongdoing. []

1989—Miami, Florida. Officer William Lozano shot and killed another motorcyclist, 23-year-old Clement Lloyd. In the ensuing crash, Lloyd’s passenger, Allan Blanchard (24) was thrown from the bike and killed. Lozano, a Latino, claimed self defense and was sentenced to seven years pending appeal. Lozano was acquitted in a second trial. Writing for the Miami Times, journalist Garth Reeves says “…you are not going to have any real peace in this town as long as black people feel Hispanic officers have hunters' rights on their lives”. [;]

1996—Saint Petersburg, Florida. TyRon Lewis is shot and killed during a traffic stop for potentially driving a stolen car. Officer James Knight ran a check on the license plates, but did not wait for the results before ordering Lewis to get out of the car. Knight then alleges that Lewis started driving forward at a slow speed, pushing the officer into traffic. Knight fired three times, killing Lewis. As late as 2004, an op-ed published in The St. Petersburg Times claimed “by his conduct, TyRon Lewis was asking for trouble.” []


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