Tuesday, October 15, 2013

New research suggests lynched teenager's innocence

The Advocate recently reported that Northeastern University's Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Clinic has endeavored to re-examine the brutal case of the 1933 lynching of a  black youth accused of raping a white girl. At the time, several witnesses testified that the youth was innocent and that two sheriff's deputies had assisted the lynch mob that had hauled the youth from his jail cell. Witnesses also testified that the girl's stepfather had confessed to the rape and had been arrested, although the man's family disputes this claim. According to the Clinic's director, its research suggests that the youth was innocent. The article begins:

The corpse of 16-year-old Freddie Moore, his face showing signs of a severe beating, hands bound, remained hanging for at least 24 hours from a metal girder on the old, hand-cranked swing bridge spanning Bayou Lafourche.

Hanged by the neck the night of Oct. 11, 1933, in a mob lynching, the black youth had been accused in the death of a neighbor, a white girl.

On the 80th anniversary, law students in Boston and a daughter of Moore’s cousin who lives in New Orleans are trying to clear his name.

Arrested Oct. 10, 1933, in the slaying days earlier of Anna Mae LaRose, a 15-year-old girl who was his friend, Moore was pulled from the parish jail in Napoleonville the next night by an angry mob of 50 to 200 armed and unmasked people who had the prison keys.

Some accounts say the lynchers were unknown and from out of town, as far away as New Orleans, while others say the mob was known to authorities. A coroner’s jury, impaneled by then-parish Coroner Dr. T.B. Pugh, said Moore “met death by a mob of unknown persons,” according to news accounts.

After being hauled from the jail, Moore was brought to the field where LaRose’s body was found, according to an Oct. 14, 1933, account in the black-owned New Orleans newspaper, The Louisiana Weekly. With a rope around his neck and clothes stripped to his waist, the teen was then marched, while being beaten, from the murder scene to the bridge and subjected to a branding iron whenever he fell.

Hanging from his body, a sign offered the final indignity: “Niggers Let This Be An Example. Do-Not-Touch-In 24 Hr. Mean it.”

As white people reviewed the scene on the bridge and black residents were warned to stay away, Moore’s body remained within sight of a school and the venerable St. Philomena Catholic Church, its spire above the fray. 


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