Life in America right now is probably more depressing overall that at any time in recent history.
It begs disbelief, however, to blame the vagaries of misfortune and disappointment for the sudden trend of supposedly suicidal men being found hanging from trees across the country — particularly since hanging is a traditional method of lynching committed by those consumed with racial animosity and since no other racial, ethnic, or gender group that may be suffering through the same difficult times as African American males has been the subject of a similar trend.
Incredibly enough, the hanging death of a fourth man within the last two weeks — weeks in which the country has exploded in protests over the lack of value placed on black lives by police around the nation — was disclosed today with police again initially characterizing the death as a suicide.
At press time, no details about the victim’s identity were available, but the man’s body was found hanging today from a tree in a field outside of a store in the Shady Acres section of Houston, just south of Interstate 610. UPDATE: The man initially identified as black was later said to be Hispanic.
According to the Houston Chronicle, Kese Smith, a spokesperson for the city’s police said that Houston police homicide detectives are currently investigating the circumstances of the death and had. No further details as of Monday afternoon.
Another Houston police spokesperson, Jodi Silva told The Houston Leader that the death is “believed to be a suicide,” but that the official cause of death is pending an autopsy. Silva also said that the department could not immediately provide any additional identifying information about the victim since his body was discovered “in an advanced stage of decomposition.”
This latest suspiciously similar death comes after two other hangings discovered in California since Memorial Day — each of which was within an hour’s drive from the other — and another victim found in a Manhattan park last week.
The first hanging victim was 38-year-old Malcolm Harsch whose body was found hanging in a tree near the Victorville City Library in San Bernadino county in southern California by the Victorville City Fire Department on May 31st.
While Harsch’s lifeless body was found first, the incident was not really publicized until after news of the death 24-year-old Robert Fuller — who was found hanging in a tree near Palmdale City Hall on last Wednesday — raised questions about why a man with no history of depression or mental illness and no known cause for wanting to kill himself would suddenly decide to commit suicide in such a difficult and painful fashion.
Dominique Alexander, 27, of Kingsbridge Terrace in the Bronx, died by hanging in Fort Tryon Park in the Inwood section of Manhattan on June 9th. The new York City Medical Examiner’s office also ruled his death a suicide.
The families of both Fuller and Harsch have rejected police characterizations of their deaths as suicides and are calling for more intensive investigations of the circumstances surrounding their demise in such an unusually suspect manner so traditionally associated with racist reprisals against black men. Alexander’s family has refused to comment on his death beyond expressing their extreme grief.
Even one black man found hung from a tree with a noose around his neck would be worthy of an extensive investigation, but four within the space of just over two weeks boggles the mind with the suggestion that an active campaign of vigilante genocide might be at hand rather than an astronomically unlikely coincidence.
Those who brush off the idea that these recent deaths may actually be some form of right-wing extremist revenge for the Black Lives Matter protests around the country would practically have to believe that committing suicide by hanging oneself from a tree has become a trendy new fad among despondent black men, an idea as unlikely as the concept that police currently treat all races and ethnicities that they encounter equally.
While there is still no hard evidence that these so-called suicides are actually cleverly executed lynchings, suspicions run high given the current climate of racial tension.
Hopefully, more details of the latest death in Houston will be available shortly.
Let’s hope that this is the last of this unusual pattern of supposed suicides that we see anytime soon.
UPDATE: This story has been updated with new information identifying the victim as a Hispanic man, not a black man.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.