11.27.20 – GADSDEN / SOUTHSIDE
Images 1-4, Gadsden: In the middle of the night on February 11, 1906, a large white mob abducted Bunk Richardson from the Etowah County Jail in Gadsden and lynched him.
In July 1905, three men were accused of rape and murder of a white woman. Bunk Richardson was not involved in the crime but knew one of the suspects and was also arrested. After the four were taken to the jail in Gadsden, a mob of 300 people gathered to lynch the suspects. The mob was successfully held back and the four prisoners were taken to Jefferson County the following day.
Two of the men, Jack Hunter and Vance Gardner, were later tried, convicted, and executed in Gadsden for the crime. The third, Will Johnson, was also convicted and sentenced to death, but Alabama Governor William Jelks doubted Mr. Johnson’s guilt and commuted his sentence to life in prison. Mr. Johnson was sent back to Jefferson County to serve his sentence.
The commutation of Will Johnson’s sentence sparked outrage in Gadsden, and a mob responded by seizing Bunk Richardson from the jail although he had never been charged with the crime. The mob dragged Mr. Richardson down the street and hung him from the train trestles crossing over the Coosa River. Mr. Richardson’s relatives were forced to leave town and abandon thriving businesses while the entire Black community lived in fear. No one was ever charged for the lynching of Bunk Richardson. (Info courtesy EJI.org.)
Images 5-6, Southside: Mountaintop removal mining and roosting vultures.