Death certificate corrected 100 years after lynching
KShortly before the 100th anniversary of the death of the African American George Tompkins, who was found hanged from a tree and with his hands tied behind his back in a park in Indianapolis (Indiana) on March 16, 1922, the 19-year-old’s death certificate has been corrected. After authorities ruled Tompkins’ death a suicide despite clear evidence of a homicide, the County Coroner’s Office now supported Marion murder as cause of death. The circumstances of death, strangling and hanging, which were also noted, pointed to a lynching.
Although the corpse found in Riverside Park in western Indianapolis 100 years ago filled the newspapers for days, the police had refrained from investigating. To this day, it remains unclear who killed Tompkins. The reason for the persecution of the African American was never clarified. The 19-year-old’s body was then buried anonymously. According to the Indiana Remembrance Coalition (IRC), a lynching investigation organization, Tompkins had moved to Indiana from Kentucky to live with relatives shortly before his death.
Senate declared lynching a hate crime
“It should never have happened that the Indianapolis authorities declared an apparent murder a suicide when it was practically impossible,” Mayor Joe Hogsett alluded to Tompkins’ tied hands at a ceremony over the weekend.
The Equal Justice Initiative counted about 4,000 racist lynchings up to the 1950s, most of them in the southern United States. One of the most well-known victims was Emmett Till, an African American who was tortured to death in Mississippi in the summer of 1955 for allegedly whistling at a white woman. Last week, the Senate in Washington passed a bill named after the 14-year-old that would make lynching a hate crime.