By: Carla Barnes
26 year old African American Frederick Jermaine Carter was found hanging in a Mississippi tree in a white suburb on Friday, December 3, 2010. The USA Today first reported it as a suicide, however, the NAACP just recently contests the findings, they feel it may actually be a lynching.
Carter, who lived in neighboring Sunflower County, was helping his stepfather paint a building Wednesday. The stepfather went to get tools and when he returned, Carter was nowhere to be found.
His body was later found and considering his history of mental illness and no evidence supposedly of anything other than a suicide it was labeled accordingly. Results of an autopsy are still pending.
The FBI‘s Jackson field office is monitoring the situation. “The FBI has been advised of the situation in Leflore County,” spokeswoman Deborah Madden says in a statement. “We stand by to provide whatever assistance is necessary to ensure the integrity of the investigation.”
State Rep. Willie Perkins, a Democrat from Greenwood and president of the Leflore County branch of the NAACP, says that group also “will keep a high scrutiny and watch on any investigative report regarding what was the cause of death.”
“There are a lot of concerns there, No. 1 that this individual could not have (hanged) himself without the assistance of someone, if it’s being declared a suicide,” he says. “Why would someone from Sunflower County come to North Greenwood, the predominantly white housing area of Greenwood? Why would someone that far away come and hang themselves in North Greenwood by a river? That does not pass the smell test to me.”
Another local elected official, state Sen. David Jordan, a Democrat, says the African-American community in Greenwood is “very much concerned.”
“This is in a white wealthy area, and black people just don’t go over there,” he says. “There’s not a single black that’s talked to us who believes that he hanged himself.”
Jordan, who is African-American, suggests there is a historical underpinning for blacks being suspicious about the specter of violence against them: Greenwood is about 12 miles from Money, Miss., site of one of the most infamous lynchings in U.S. history. In August 1955, Emmett Till, a 14-year-old Chicago boy visiting relatives for the summer, was abducted and killed after he allegedly made remarks to a white woman.
“We’re not drawing any conclusions,” Jordan says. “We’re skeptical, and rightfully we should be, given our history. We can’t take this lightly. We just have to wait and see.”