Thomas Laqueur: Lynched for Drinking from a White Man’s Well

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It is hard to escape the enormity of the crimes the Equal Justice Initiative documents, and for which no one was ever punished. All this narrative work has been carried out in the hope that the recognition of past wrongs and moral blindness will make those in the present not only recognise our complicity in this history but also the continuity of past and present. The black man lynched for ‘standing around’ in a white neighbourhood in 1892 or the man lynched after being accused of vagrancy in Garyville, Louisiana in 1917 ought to remind us of Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old shot in 2012 in Sanford, Florida by a neighbourhood watch volunteer who thought he looked out of place in a white neighborhood, or of Eric Garner, choked and killed on Staten Island in 2014 by police who were arresting him for selling untaxed cigarettes. These are not lynchings but ...