SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Because of our nation’s recent past, news of a Black man found hanged on Martin Luther King Jr. Day automatically triggered fears of racial violence for many African Americans.
“I’ve been a Black man all my life, so certainly I understand the fear, but the fear is also unfounded,” said Savannah Mayor Van Johnson. He visited the scene at West 50th Street and Edwin Avenue Monday where the young man was found hanging.
Johnson says, despite rumors, a preliminary police investigation indicates the man took his own life. “The GBI is conducting an investigation, a medical autopsy,” he added.
Even Savannah Police Chief Roy Minter, who usually doesn’t comment on suicides, released a statement, saying his department doesn’t suspect foul play, despite speculation suggesting otherwise.
Johnson says some of the rumors going around stem from social media posts, credited to the NAACP, claiming white supremacists planned to start hanging Black men.
The NAACP has denounced the posts as a hoax.
“Unfortunately, these rumors have been spread irresponsibly by people who are conspiracy theorists,” Johnson said. “They don’t have any medical training; they don’t have a law enforcement background, and so they are ruling on something that has not been ruled upon yet.”
If you or anyone you know is struggling, the Suicide Prevention Hotline is available at 1-800-273-8255. You can find additional resources by clicking here.