1. Opinion

Mr. President, this is what lynching really is | Editorial

Trump faces a constitutional process. Thousands of black men faced hate-filled lawless lynch mobs.

Lynching was a racist terror crime employed by white supremacists to murder more than 4,400 black Americans between 1877 and 1950. So it is grotesque for the president of the United States to misappropriate that term as Donald Trump did in a Tuesday morning tweet regarding the House’s impeachment inquiry: “All Republicans must remember what they are witnessing here - a lynching. But we will WIN!”

Florida had the second–most lynchings of any state on a per-capita basis, with 315 total — 53 across Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, Polk, Hernando and Citrus counties, according to the Equal Justice Initiative. John F. Evans was one of them. In downtown St. Petersburg at 10:25 on the night of Nov. 12, 1914, hundreds of armed white men broke into the city jail and dragged Evans out. He was accused of killing a prominent white man. They put a noose around his neck and marched him to the intersection of Second Avenue S and what is now Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street. There the mob lynched him, stringing him up from a telephone pole 40 feet in the air. The mob fired 500 shots at his body, which was left hanging until the morning, near where Tropicana Field sits today. This was a lynching. What Trump faces is a legal process set out in the Constitution.


Reaction to Trump’s tweet was appropriately swift and pointed, except for one notable exception from his erstwhile ally, Sen. Lindsey Graham:

Sen. Lindsey Graham [ PATRICK SEMANSKY | AP ]

“This is a lynching in every sense. This is un-American.”

A comment to reporters from Sen. Lindsey O. Graham, the South Carolina Republican who is a close Trump ally.

This is the Constitution at work...

President Donald Trump, center right, meets with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, standing left, congressional leadership and others, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead via AP) [ SHEALAH CRAIGHEAD | AP ]

... and this is murder by a lawless mob.

Men and boys pose beneath the body of Lige Daniels, a black man, shortly after he was lynched on August 3, 1920, in Center, Texas. This scene was turned into a postcard depicting the lynching. The back reads, "He killed Earl's grandma. She was Florence's mother. Give this to Bud. From Aunt Myrtle." [ Wikimedia Commons ]

Editorials are the institutional voice of the Tampa Bay Times. The members of the Editorial Board are Times Chairman and CEO Paul Tash, Editor of Editorials Tim Nickens, and editorial writers Elizabeth Djinis, John Hill and Jim Verhulst. Follow @TBTimes_Opinion on Twitter for more opinion news.