Tags: North Carolina | hanging

North Carolina Protesters Call for Probe in Teen's Hanging

Saturday, 13 December 2014 08:59 PM

Several hundred people marched through a small North Carolina town on Saturday to call for a fresh investigation into the August hanging death of a black teenager that was ruled a suicide by local authorities.

Lennon Lacy, 17, was found hanging from a swing set by two belts at a mobile home park in Bladenboro, a town of 1,700 people some 150 miles (240 km) southeast of Charlotte.

Local police said there was no sign of foul play, and his death was ruled a suicide by the state medical examiner.

But Lacy's family and other activists, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), have voiced concern about the official findings and raised suspicions that the teen might have been murdered.

His mother, Claudia Lacy, has publicly questioned whether her son was lynched.

"I don't have a reason why the death of my 17-year-old boy still has so many questions," Lacy said on Saturday. "Why wasn't it taken seriously?"

The Federal Bureau of Investigation said Friday it would conduct its own investigation into Lacy's Aug. 29 death.

During Saturday's march, the Rev. William Barber, president of the NAACP's North Carolina chapter, said there were many unresolved questions that needed to be addressed.

The two belts from which Lacy was hanging were not his own, Barber said, nor were the shoes he was wearing, which were two sizes too small.

Lacy's own shoes were never found, and no suicide note was left, Barber said.

"His family says they can accept anything if it is the truth," Barber said. "What they can't accept is a rush to judgment based on facts that aren't plausible."

The family and the NAACP have also said that Lacy was dating an older white woman who has yet to be interviewed by police.

Many marchers said they believe the case was another example of police mistreatment of minorities, echoing the outcry over the recent deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of white police officers in New York and Ferguson, Missouri.

In both cases, grand juries declined to indict the police officers. Those decisions sparked waves of demonstrations around the country, the most recent on Saturday.

"Imagine if a Caucasian boy was found hanging in a black neighborhood in the same way," said Matthew Kromartie, 75, adding that he fears for the safety of his two grandsons, who are black.

"Everyone in that neighborhood would have been a suspect," he said.

Friends from Lacy's high school said the area where the teen lived is more racially mixed than other parts of town, where pockets of white and black residents live separately. They said he got along equally well with classmates of all races.

"I think the whole school went to his funeral," said Justin Ruffin, 17.

The swing set where Lacy was found sits in a cleared area in the middle of about a dozen white mobile homes, an area Barber has said black residents had in years past avoided for fear of violence.

Lacy's home was about a half mile away, in a quiet street of brick duplexes.

The night before his death, he had gone out for a run and laid out his football uniform for a game the next day, his family said.

While he had recently lost an uncle, which authorities cited as the reason for his suicide, his family said his demeanor was as cheerful as usual.

"Something would have changed in him if he was going to do that," Claudia Lacy said of the possibility that he killed himself. "We were too close for me not to know."

Bladen County District Attorney Jon David said Friday the FBI's involvement did not indicate the local investigation was deficient and said the office was committed to fully investigating all deaths involving juveniles. (Editing by Victoria Cavaliere and Jonathan Oatis)

© 2018 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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Several hundred people marched through a small North Carolina town on Saturday to call for a fresh investigation into the August hanging death of a black teenager that was ruled a suicide by local authorities.
North Carolina, hanging
Saturday, 13 December 2014 08:59 PM
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