Sunday, May 18, 2003

This is a bizarre story:
From the time his son was old enough to understand, Kamau Marcharia has been telling Ramon the story of an ancestor who was tied to the bumper of a Model T Ford and dragged to his death.

Lynching is part of black Southerners' heritage.

But Marcharia was not prepared for the call that came three years ago when Ramon and three other black boys got into a fight with a white boy at middle school and were summoned to court to answer charges of lynching.

''I didn't even know there was a law like that,'' the veteran civil rights activist says. ''I was outraged. See, a 13-year-old fighting because somebody either pushed him or punched him is not lynching. ...

''When I hear that term, psychologically I cannot get that out of my mind, the picture of some horrible event.''

South Carolina's lynching law, the only one of four in the nation that is still routinely used, was enacted to end the state's long history of white vigilante justice against blacks. But that law has borne strange fruit.

Today in South Carolina, blacks are most often the ones charged with lynching defined in the statute as any act of violence by two or more people against another, regardless of race.

Though they make up just 30 percent of the state's population, blacks account for 63 percent of the lynching charges, according to an Associated Press analysis of crime statistics.


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