Feb. 11, 2021

Who Pays America?

In Omaha, Nebraska, in October 1891, thousands of white people gathered to seize George Smith, a Black man, from the local jail after he was accused of assault. Though he had an alibi and most reports of the alleged crime were false, the mob beat Mr. Smith, dragged him through the streets with a rope around his neck, and then hanged him from telephone wires in front of a local opera house. Despite the severe physical injuries inflicted, the coroner concluded that Mr. Smith had died of “fright.” As a result, seven white men, including the local police captain, who were arrested for coordinating the lynching were never prosecuted. Murder ordained by government inaction, another lynching of a black man goes unacknowledged and unpunished by a nation whose constitution supposedly guaranteed George Smith equal protection under the laws except the laws of white mob rule.