The FBI will investigate the case of Lennon Lacy, the black teenager found hanging in August from a swing set in North Carolina , whose parents have disputed the official ruling that he killed himself and asked whether his death amounted to a modern-day lynching.
It was confirmed on Friday that a federal agent has been assigned to investigate what happened to Lacy, 17, a budding high-school football prospect found hanging in the middle of a predominantly white trailer park in Bladenboro, North Carolina, on 29 August. The move follows a formal request from the Lacy family and from the North Carolina branch of the NAACP to the US attorney asking for the federal authorities to throw their weight behind the investigation.
Pierre Lacy, Lennon’s brother, told the Guardian that the involvement of the FBI marked a “huge step” in their search for the truth. “We have accomplished a lot even to have the FBI consider looking into this.”
Lacy said the assignment of an agent took the inquiry “to the next level” but added: “We are still left waiting to find out where this will all take us.”
The Rev William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP, which was invited by the Lacy family to carry out its own probe of events, said he was “deeply glad” about the FBI’s involvement. “This is a must. It continues to bolster our belief that what we need here is first of all a full and thorough investigation.”
Lennon Lacy was found on the morning of 29 August hanging by a dog leash and belt from a swing set that sits in the middle of the trailer park close to the Lacy family home in Bladenboro. Within four days, local police had announced their conclusions that there had been no foul play and that the teenager had in effect killed himself.
The family were not satisfied by the speed and the apparent haste with which the police inquiry was conducted, and recently presented a list of more than 20 specific evidential concerns to the US attorney, Thomas Walker. The decision to put the FBI onto the case was first reported on Friday by the Associated Press.
Claudia Lacy, writing in the Guardian on Friday , said that the local Bladenboro police had been too quick to reach its conclusion: “We don’t know what happened to my son three months ago, and suicide is still possible. But there are so many unanswered questions that I can’t help but ask: was he killed? Was my son lynched?”
Claudia and Pierre Lacy will be leading a march on Saturday through Bladenboro, a tiny town with a largely white population of fewer than 2,000 people located towards the south of the state. The march will begin at the First Baptist church, where the Lacys worship, and pass through the center of the community, in an attempt to express publicly the family’s quest for justice.
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