Friday, November 11, 2011

UPDATE: Prosecutions unlikely in Claude Neal Lynching

Old Jackson County Courthouse
The new investigation into the 1934 Claude Neal lynching in Jackson County is coming to an end and the Justice Department says prosecutions are unlikely to result.
This is a logical conclusion as all of the men involved in the 77-year-old case are dead.

The news came this week out of Washington, D.C., where a spokesperson indicated that most of the FBI investigations into dozens of Civil Rights era "cold cases" are now over and the rest are nearing their conclusions.  "Few, if any, of these cases will be prosecuted," the spokesperson indicated.

Claude Neal was lynched in Jackson County by a small group of men in 1934 and his body hanged from a tree at the courthouse after he confessed to raping and murdering a young woman named Lola Cannady near Greenwood.  She was beaten to death with a hammer.

Local authorities tried to protect Neal by sending him to several jails across Florida and Alabama, but press reports finally led the lynchers to him at the jail in Brewton, Alabama. Armed with dynamite and guns they removed him from the jail, brought him back to Jackson County and tortured and then killed him in a remote area near today's Parramore Landing Park on Lake Seminole.

The lynching generated widespread coverage and became a key factor in efforts to pass a national anti-lynching bill.  A Jackson County Grand Jury ruled that Neal had killed Lola Cannady and then been killed by a group of unknown persons.  No one was ever charged in his death.

My new book, The Claude Neal Lynching: The 1934 Murders of Lola Cannady and Claude Neal,is now available. It can be ordered at the upper right of this page and is also available at Chipola River Book and Tea in Downtown Marianna. You also can read more about the violent incidents of October 1934 at www.exploresouthernhistory.com/claudeneal.

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