Maryland confronts its lynching legacy

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tags: racism, lynching

A bright moon hovered above Westminster, Md., that evening in June 1885, its “still rays lighting up every nook and corner,” The Baltimore Sun reported at the time, when the sounds of “a cavalcade of horses” broke the silence.

Dozens of riders, their faces masked, rode toward the downtown jail.

They overpowered the sheriff on duty and tied him up. They found a key in the jailhouse, yanked open the cell of 21-year-old Townsend Cook, and threw a rope around his neck.

And the mob of about 50 took Cook, a black day laborer accused of assaulting a white woman, to a nearby farm, hanged him from an oak tree, and fired shots into his body as it dangled.

“[The] ghastly corpse, with two bullet wounds in the back of the head, swung with pendulum-like motion in the sweet, morning breeze,” The Sun reported. “Everyone, save the officers of the law, seemed pleased.”

Read entire article at The Baltimore Sun

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