AFRICANGLOBE – The FBI is looking into the hanging death of Black North Carolina teen months after it was ruled a suicide, as his mother asked, “Was my son lynched?”
Lennon Lacy, a 17-year-old high school football player who was dating a 31-year-old white woman, was found hanging from a swing set in Bladenboro, a small town where racial tensions still run high.
His family and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People have called the death suspicious for months. On Friday, Bladen County District Attorney Jon David said Friday that an FBI agent will probe the case.
“Was he killed? Was my son lynched?” his mother, Claudia Lacy, asked in a Friday op-ed in the Guardian. “It’s hard to think that in 2014, with a Black man in the White House, such a thing could have happened in the United States.”
The football star died in shoes that were too small for him and was found hanging from a belt that has family did not recognize, they told Yahoo News. Days after he was buried, his grave was defiled.
Lennon Lacy’s family said lingering racism remains an issue in Bladenboro, a small town that is 80% white and 18% Black.
“Black people don’t walk late at night, because they’re afraid of not making it home,” his brother, Pierre Lacy said.
The NAACP also suggested the area’s racial tensions — and Lacy’s white girlfriend — played a part in the hanging.
“He did have an interracial relationship and attended an interracial church and people in that community raised their dislike of that,” Reverend William Barber, president of the North Carolina’s NAACP, told the Guardian last month.
Lennon Lacy’s family last saw him on Aug. 28.
The 17-year-old who dreamed of playing in the NFL was getting ready for the next day’s football game and decided to go for an evening run.
He never came home.
The next day, police found Lennon Lacy hanged by a dog leash and a belt on a playground outside of a trailer park. He was wearing lace-less shoes that were a size and a half too small for him, his family said. The belt around his neck was not his own, they claimed.
Four days later, investigators ruled the death a suicide.
“For those four days, the police didn’t once come to my house, they didn’t look inside Lennon’s room — they still haven’t to this day. They didn’t ask to see his cell phone so they could track his calls, they didn’t ask me what clothes he was wearing the night before he died,” his mom wrote in the Guardian.
Detectives claim the football star was depressed.
“How do you psychologically evaluate a dead person?” his brother Pierre Lacy asked. “He was just too excited for football for me to believe that he would end himself.”
Days after Lennon Lacy was buried, his grave was desecrated, further raising his family’s suspicions.
Activists said they just want a thorough investigation into Lennon Lacy’s death.
“There seems to be a rush to suicide,” Barber said. “If Lennon Lacy was white and was found hanging in a predominately Black trailer park that has known to have some drug involvement and other things, we just don’t believe it would be this quick rush to say it was a suicide.”
The family hopes the FBI probe could be the detailed investigation they have been waiting for.
“We demand the truth. Tell us what happened to Lennon Lacy,” Claudia Lacy wrote. “Tell me what happened to my son.”
By: Meg Wagner