The body of a Latino man was found hanging from a tree in Houston, Texas on Monday morning, and police believe his death was a suicide despite widespread speculation on social media. According to a report by The Houston Chronicle, the man was discovered just after 9 a.m. in a field just outside of a storefront on Ella Boulevard. A video of the grisly scene circulated on social media, causing some confusion.
The unidentified man was misidentified as Black in a tweet that circulated widely on Monday, causing some users to associate his death with a lynching. However, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo soon clarified that the victim was a "Hispanic/Caucasian male." Moreover, Acevedo said that the man was "described by his family as suicidal," lending credence to the theory that he died by suicide. The viral tweet incorrectly identifying the man's race has been deleted, but investigators are reportedly still looking into his death.
Another black man was found hung from a tree in Houston, TX.
Thats 5 separate lynching just within these past weeks.
It can't be a coincidence. There is no reason to rule out that these were racial terror lynchings!
BLACK LIVES MATTER!pic.twitter.com/6veTJVjATu— StanceGrounded (@_SJPeace_) June 15, 2020
The idea that this unidentified man might have been murdered comes amid nationwide tensions between police and activists over the treatment of Black Americans and systemic violence. It also follows two other mysterious deaths in California, where community members are highly suspicious that suicide was not the cause.
In the last few weeks, the remains of two Black men were discovered hanged outdoors in southern California — 38-year-old Malcolm Harsch was found hanging from a tree in Victorville, near a homeless encampment, and 24-year-old Robert Fuller was found last week hanging from a tree near City Hall in Palmdale. In both cases, police deemed the deaths suicide, but public outcry has caused them to reopen the investigations.
"We just want the truth. My brother was not suicidal. He was a survivor," said Diamond Alexander, Fuller's sister on Saturday, according to a report by VOA News. Alexander spoke at a public memorial for Fuller held in Palmdale. Meanwhile, the Harsch family also spoke out, saying that they "want justice, not comfortable excuses."
"There are many ways to die but considering the current racial tension, a Black man hanging himself from a tree definitely doesn't sit well with us right now," they added.
Lynchings were a common form of racial terrorism against Black Americans throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, typically ending with a mob hanging the victim from a tree. With the current wave of protests against systemic racism and police violence all across the country, many find it suspicious that so many deaths are taking place this way now.