Jun 15, 1920
In 1920, Duluth is home to a small black community. It is a period of heightened racial conflict across the country. On June 15, 1920, police arrest several young black men accused of raping a white woman. That evening, three of them – Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson, and Isaac McGhie – are taken from jail by a mob and lynched. A call for justice, but the lynch mob is only lightly punished. Two blacks are tried on questionable charges of rape. Three white men are imprisoned for rioting; one black man is imprisoned for rape. Afterwards, many blacks leave Duluth. Minnesota’s black community establishes the Duluth Branch of the NAACP and campaigns for anti-lynching legislation. Years later, the three victims are finally properly laid to rest.*
Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent-the Lord detests them both. Proverbs 17:15 NIV
“In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury … , and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.”
U.S. Constitution Amendment VI
Lord, there are so many forces and counter-forces involved in this event. Will You help me separate the questions, think clearly, and pray effectively? Will You justly and mercifully deal with the plots and sub-plots of this event in Minnesota’s history?
Your Word exhorts humanity to protect innocence against evil and all kinds of defilements. More specifically, the book of Deuteronomy in the 22nd chapter connects the idea that rape violates a present or future marriage. The guiding principle is that the marriage relationship is to be kept inviolate.
Will You forgive the misogyny of the sexual misconduct and or rape in this event? All rape shows a contempt for You, and Your image within women. All rape defiles its recipient twice; it is a sin against her body and spirit. Will You forgive these offenses against Irene Tusken, and Your life within her?
Granted, there was some justification of payback to the offender(s) given an assumption of rape. In contrast, will You forgive the crushing mob violence against these black males, and especially targeting Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson, and Isaac McGhie based on assumptions? I acknowledge the heart of this riot to be violence based on mixed motives; a combination of racial stereotypes and a truthful, yet impatient desire for justice.
Later, when Miss Tusken was examined for the evidence of rape and or assault, no physical evidence was found. “Two days later on June 17, 1920, Judge William Cant and the grand jury had a difficult time convicting the lead mob members. In the end the grand jury issued thirty-seven indictments for the lynching mob and twenty-five were given out for rioting and twelve for the crime of murder in the first degree. Some of the people were indicted for both. But only three people would end up being convicted for rioting. Seven men were indicted for rape. For five of the indicted men, charges were dismissed. The remaining two, Max Mason and William Miller, were tried for rape. William Miller was acquitted, while Max Mason was convicted and sentenced to serve seven to thirty years in prison.” ****
Our city is tarnished by this crime of lynching! Our city has offended You first insofar as it judged Your image in Clayton, Jackson, and McGhie. Our city has offended You insofar as it sought vengeance rather than waiting for a trial by jury. Will You forgive these sins, and take the judgments of mob violence, human skin color, and vengeance up, out, and onto the Cross of Christ?
We have judged You too quickly, Lord! We have assumed Your place as the Supreme Justice of the universe, and crowned ourselves as the rightful sheriffs, magistrates, and jurists of our offenders. Have mercy on this mob of Duluth citizens, and the perpetrator(s) of the crimes against Irene Tusken!
In the same way, we have committed lynchings in the present era in the court of public opinion without a trial. We have been incited to riot and rage in our hearts based on accusations alone, and have not the patience for a public trial and clarity. Have mercy on Minnesota’s present era judgments of the alleged sexual offenses of: President Trump, Senator Franken, Secretary Clinton, Judge Moore, Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, and Garrison Keillor.
Help us, Father, we are in a conundrum! We stand with the victims of any sexual crimes and misconduct! Bring justice to them as citizens, and healing and wholeness to them as individuals! We stand with the accused in their 6th Amendment rights as citizens, and against the potential counter-judgment of misandry based solely on their chromosomes!
We need better paths to avoid long-standing silences of victims who are shamed or terrified from naming their offenders beyond the statute of limitations! We need methods to discern false accusations beyond the destruction of evidence and statutes of limitation. Will You give us grace that overcomes our misogyny and misandry? Will You give us patience to wait for the truth so that we do not compound a crime with the crime of street justice?
Will You have mercy on my lack of mercy for the most heinous offenses of the most abhorrent offenders? Will You forgive the murder, misogyny, and misandry of my heart and thoughts? Will You forgive my judgments of my neighbor made in Your Image irregardless of: race, nationality, background, identity, or origin? Will You replace lynchings with acts of public restoration, blessing, and commendation in Duluth? Will You replace sexual assault violations with lionizations of the relationship of marriage in our State?
‘You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself;’ I am the LORD. Leviticus 19:18 NIV
“Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. Romans 12:9 NIV
* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
**Overview of the Duluth Lynchings of 1920. http://www.mnhs.org/duluthlynchings/index.php
***Another summary by M. Ziebarth on lynchings. http://collections.mnhs.org/MNHistoryMagazine/articles/55/v55i02p072-072.pdf