Sunday, May 28, 2006

"Anatomy of a Murder" - Lynching

David Bradley in the Nation on Cynthia Carr's "Anatomy of a Murder"

"On the night of August 7, 1930, in the town of Marion, in Grant County, Indiana, a congregation of white Hoosiers--men, women, children--participated in a bizarre American ritual: the lynching of a black man. Or rather men, for in Marion there were two: Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith, both 19, charged with the robbery and murder by shooting of a white man, Claude Deeter, 24, the previous night in a local lovers' lane. Shipp and Smith had been interrogated using methods common in that era, and based on the confessions thereby obtained they most likely would have been convicted. The prosecutor, the Marion Chronicle-Tribune reported, would demand the death penalty, and the "youths...cringed in the shadow of the electric chair." But the Chronicle also reported another allegation: Deeter's companion, 17-year-old Mary Ball, claimed she had been raped.

So a mob assembled. Ball's father made the ritual demand that the prisoners be handed over. Following the pro forma refusal, the mob stormed the jail. First Shipp, then Smith, was dragged out, maimed, murdered, mutilated and hung in the courthouse square. The next day's headline read Marion Relaxes After Lynching--like God, on the Seventh Day. (read entire article)

See an earlier post on Carr from the NYTimes Magazine ((Miscege)NATION - The open secret at the heart of US white supremacy)

For more on Cameron see David Mariott's On Black Men


At 2:49 AM, Blogger Sly Civilian said...

"The next day's headline read Marion Relaxes After Lynching--like God, on the Seventh Day."

That line punches me in the gut. I'm reminded of Girard's theory on the contagion of violence, and the collective relief that such outburst can have. It still scares me to no end that the calm of civil society is not inimical to lynching...indeed, it quite often feeds on such violence for sustinance.

At 10:26 AM, Blogger hysterical blackness said...

Hi sly civilian. That is a line isn't it? That the lynching -- the violent regulation and disciplining of black bodies-- is the work, the sacrifice that must be made, to allow the rest of shit to function.

At 12:12 AM, Blogger Another Conflict Theorist said...

One of those nights when the mind just can't rest and you're wandering around looking for interesting reading.

Great article. Fantastic blog. Definitely adding it to my favorites. Keep it going.


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