Posted on August 15, 2021

‘Lynchings in Mississippi Never Stopped’

DeNeen L. Brown, Washington Post, August 8, 2021

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.


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.


Raynard Johnson, 17

JUNE 16, 2000

Raynard Johnson was found hanging from a pecan tree in his front yard in Kokomo, Miss. The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation called the hanging a suicide, according to records. But his family believes Johnson was lynched, Jefferson said.

In 2000, the Rev. Jesse Jackson traveled to Mississippi to call attention to Johnson’s hanging.

“There’s enough circumstantial stuff here that warrants a serious investigation. We will not rest until those who committed this murder are brought to justice,” Jackson told demonstrators before leading a march to the pecan tree where Raynard was found. “We reject the suicide theory.”

In February 2001, the Justice Department announced it ended its investigation into Johnson’s death: “The evidence does not support a federal criminal civil rights prosecution.”


Nick Naylor, 23

JAN. 9, 2003

Three years later, Nick Naylor, 23, was found hanging from a tree about 11 miles from his house in Porterville, Miss. A dog chain was wrapped around his neck. Police ruled the death a suicide, but an attorney for the family said it was a lynching.


Roy Veal, 55

APRIL 22, 2004

A year later, Roy Veal, was found hanging from a pecan tree near Woodville, Miss. Relatives said Veal was found with a hood over his head. A state police spokesman told reporters Veal’s death was “consistent with suicide.”{snip}

Frederick Jermaine Carter, 26

DEC. 3, 2010

Frederick Jermaine Carter was found hanging from a tree limb in a White neighborhood in Greenwood, Miss. The state medical examiner ruled Carter’s death a suicide. Relatives called it a lynching and demanded for a federal investigation.


Craig Anderson, 49

JUNE 26, 2011

One of the most graphic examples of a modern-day racial terror killing occurred on June 26, 2011, when 10 white teenagers killed 49-year-old James Craig Anderson in Jackson, Miss.


That night two carloads of White teenagers drove into a motel parking lot where they spotted Anderson, according to records. Some teens jumped out of the cars and started beating Anderson, in an attack captured on a surveillance video.


Otis Byrd, 54

MARCH 19, 2015

Otis Byrd, who had been missing since March 2, 2015, was found hanging from a tree on March 19, 2015, in Port Gibson, Miss.

The Claiborne County sheriff’s office said Byrd was found with a bedsheet wrapped around his neck. Byrd had been convicted in 1980 of murder in the death of a White woman, according to the Mississippi Department of Corrections. He had been paroled in 2006.

The FBI and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division launched an investigation. In 2015, the Justice Department released a statement regarding Byrd’s death saying that investigators had found no foul play.


Phillip Carroll, 22

MAY 28, 2017

Phillip Carroll was found hanging from a tree in Jackson, Miss. Police called the death a suicide. Early reports said Carroll had been found with his hands tied behind his back. Police denied that account.


Deondrey Montreal Hopkins, 35

MAY 5, 2019

Deondrey Montreal Hopkins, who lived in Columbus, Miss., was found hanging from a tree on a bank of the Luxapallila Creek. Columbus Police Chief Fred Shelton said Hopkins’s death was not a homicide.