Family of Indiana lynching victims against proposed memorial

MARION, Ind. (AP) — Relatives of two black men who were lynched in 1930 are opposing a proposed memorial honoring the two victims.

Abram Smith, 19, and Thomas Shipp, 18, were accused of killing a white man and raping a white woman, The Chronicle Tribune reported . They were dragged from the Grant County Jail by a mob and hanged from a tree on the Grant County Courthouse lawn.

A controversial photo of the lynching has since become infamous. It shows the men’s bodies hanging from a tree surrounded by a crowd of white onlookers, some smiling.

Huntington University professor Jack Heller approached county commissioners about two weeks ago with the idea of creating a memorial. Heller said he was representing the Alabama-based Equal Justice Initiative, which had recently opened a lynching museum. The initiative is seeking to have a memorial stone placed at every lynching site in the country.

A descendent of Smith said he was concerned that the memorial would be vandalized. Shipp’s family members said the nonprofit never approached them for consent.

“I think just about all the family members that I know of are against it,” said Seclinda Moore, whose mother was related to Shipp.

Pansy Bailey, Shipp’s first cousin, said a memorial isn’t necessary because “the only people it should really matter to is the family.” She said the family just wants closure.

Other relatives said they put the past behind them after a reconciliation day in 2003 where family and clergy members gathered in Marion.

Commissioners said they will continue to communicate with the families about the proposed memorial.


Information from: Chronicle-Tribune,