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Your Opinion: Reality of lynching shows brutality of Love's comment

Your Opinion: Reality of lynching shows brutality of Love's comment

February 6th, 2018 by Harry Trickey, Jefferson City in Opinion

Dear Editor:

On Aug. 30, 2017, in Springfield, Missouri, vandals threw red paint onto the stature of Confederate Gen. Sterling Price.

In response, State Rep. Warren Love, R-Osceola, advocated lynching the vandals. They should be "hung from a tall tree with a long rope."

Allow me to recount a 1906 lynching in Springfield, Missouri, so we might better understand what Love had in mind.

In 1906, The Queen City of the Ozarks was largely free of racial tensions. Blacks owned businesses, served as city leaders, sheriff deputies, teachers, doctors, lawyers and tradesmen.

On Good Friday, April 13, 1906, Mina Edwards, 20, took a buggy ride with Charles Cooper, 22. Both white.

The next morning Cooper told Springfield police that he and Edwards were attacked by two black men. He said they had knocked him unconscious and dragged Edwards to a nearby pasture and raped her.

Soon police arrested Horace Duncan, a black man who Cooper said he recognized, and Fred Coker, who worked with Duncan at a livery stable.

By nightfall men and boys gathered at the city jail looking for Duncan and Coker. The mob, 2,000 strong, overwhelmed the sheriff and stormed into Duncan's and Coker's cell where they found Will Allen, suspected of murdering a Confederate veteran.

The three terrified men were beaten and dragged sobbing, pleading and praying for their lives to the Gottfried Tower, a metal structure several stories high in the town square.

The three were doused with coal oil, ropes were placed around Duncan and Coker's necks and then hoisted up to dangle and strangle until death.

A bonfire was lit beneath the lifeless bodies that eventually fell into the fire.

Allen was taken higher up the tower. Duncan and Coker's remains smoldered below him. The crowd shouted "Hang him."

Allen jumped from the tower thus breaking his neck sparing, himself death by strangulation. Allen's body burned until it too fell into the fire with Duncan and Coker.

Eventually the crowd dispersed, taking bits of rope, clothing and bone as souvenirs.

Easter morning found many white men, women and children, dressed in Easter finery at the square to see the charred bodies while acrid smoke hung in the air.

Black folks, however, assembled at the train station, while others fled by wagon or on foot.

While lynching is a brutal experience for the victim, it in turn makes brutes of the perpetrators.