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Racial terrorism in America: Group wants to honor 4,000 lynching victims with historical markers

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An Alabama-based civil rights organization found that over the course of the South’s turbulent racial history, some 4,000 people are known to have been lynched.

The New York Times reported that the study by the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) is the most exhaustive of its kind and the historian behind it, Bryan Stevenson, believes that the sites of known lynchings should be marked and preserved as a visible reminder of the South’s history of racial violence.

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On Tuesday, the EJI released “Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror,” a comprehensive history of racially-driven murders by mobs of Southern whites. The study took five years to compile and entailed 160 trips by EJI representatives to lynching sites across the American South.

The report contains the available records of 3,959 “racial terror lynchings” in 12 southern states between 1877 and 1950. The report contains an interactive map for readers to study when and where over the course of 73 years these types of murders took place.

Stevenson intends to make these killings a matter of public record. The EJI is in the process of selection and prioritizing which lynching sites will receive historical markers first.

“Lynching and the terror era shaped the geography, politics, economics and social characteristics of being black in America during the 20th century,” Mr. Stevenson said.

Blacks who fled the South during the lynching and terror years, he said, were not just looking for work, they were fleeing from terrorism.

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The Times said that prior to Stevenson’s list, the most extensive history of lynchings had been compiled by sociologists Stewart Tolnay and E. M. Beck in 1995, although attempts to record the crimes go all the way back to 1882.

Beck, a professor at the University of Georgia, told the Times, “If you’re trying to make a point that the amount of racial violence is underestimated, well then, there’s no doubt about it…What people don’t realize here is just how many there were, and how close. Places they drive by every day.”

Beck underscored a point that Stevenson’s new report makes, that in no way were these acts of mob violence any kind of exercise aimed at achieving vigilante justice, they were a means of terrorizing the black community and keeping them in constant fear for their lives and the lives of their loved ones.

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Oftentimes young black men were burned alive for the entertainment of an entire town’s white population. Thelma Dangerfield — treasurer of the Paris, Texas NAACP, told the Times about the 1893 killing of Henry Smith, a black teenager who was accused of murder.

Thousands watched as Smith was paraded through the town on an open float, then taken to a scaffold, tortured and hanged.

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In 1920, a pair of brothers were tied to a flagpole and burned alive in the middle of the city fairgrounds.

“There were two or three blacks who were actually around during that time, but you couldn’t get them to talk about it” until recently, Dangerfield said.

She said it hadn’t occurred to her to ever erect a historical marker.

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“It would be a fight,” she said. “Someone is going to have some resistance to it. But you know, I think it wouldn’t hurt to try it.”


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Florida sheriff ordered his officers to not wear face masks — and then banned the safety gear

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A Florida sheriff ordered his officers to not wear face masks -- and banned the safety gear from his office -- even as the southern US state has hit record daily coronavirus death tolls.

Sheriff Billy Woods, of central Florida's Marion County, emailed deputies Tuesday to tell them of the new mask prohibition, according to local paper the Ocala Star Banner, citing the message.

"My order will stand as is when you are on-duty/working as my employee and representing my Office – masks will not be worn," the email read.

The sheriff allowed for certain exceptions, including for officers who work in prisons, schools, hospitals or with people suspected of being infected with the virus.

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Fast-moving brush fire north of Los Angeles has prompted mandatory evacuation orders for some 500 homes

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A fast-moving brush fire north of Los Angeles prompted mandatory evacuation orders for some 500 homes on Wednesday as firefighters battled the flames that had burned 10,000 acres by early evening, authorities said.

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Rapidly-spreading flames had scorched some 10,000 acres (4,050 hectares) within a little more than three hours, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

"Multiple agencies are battling a brush fire near the Lake Hughes area in the Angeles National Forest," the department said in a tweet.

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‘Trump should know how to be in public with a woman who publicly humiliated him’: Trevor Noah jokes

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"The Daily Show's" Trevor Noah couldn't help but notice President Donald Trump's confusion during the Q&A of his daily coronavirus press briefing. Trump was asked about Vice President Joe Biden's pick as Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) as his running mate. In his attacks on Harris, Trump seemed to be spending more time defending Biden than he did attacking him.

Trump claimed the reason he was surprised Biden picked Harris is that she was "very very nasty to Joe Biden," he said she was "probably nastier even than Pocahontas," his nickname for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). "She was very disrespectful to Joe Biden."

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