3 Hangings Of Black Men In A Week, Another Found Hanging From A Tree

3 Hangings Of Black Men In A Week, Another Found Hanging From A Tree

There have been three hangings of Black men in a week, and a fourth man, unidentified, was found hanging from a tree. Police have ruled their deaths suicide. Robert L. Fuller, left, and Malcolm Harsch were not suicides, their families said. (Photos: Facebook)

The bodies of three Black men were found hanging from trees in just a week. Could they all be suicides, or was foul play involved? That’s what their families what to know.

Initially, police said there was no foul play in the hanging deaths of two men in Southern California. Robert Fuller, 24, and Malcolm Harsch, 38, were thought to be suicides. The families of the men, however, challenged findings and demanded more thorough investigations. These deaths have triggered local protests. Now, the feds have announced they will look into the deaths of Fuller and Harsch, ABC News reported.

These are not the only questionable hangings. In Oregon, a Black, homeless, queer Portlander was found hanging from a tree in 2019. While the police said it was a suicide, family members disagreed.

In Houston, an unidentified man believed to be Hispanic was found hanging from a tree, The Leader News reported. Police are investigating his identity but say the manner of death was suicide.

Another young Black man was found hanging in a tree in Manhattan Park, New York City, on June 9. The death of Dominique Alexander, 27, is currently considered suicide, according to the medical examiner.

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“Rumors quickly swirled on social media that Alexander, who is Black,
had been lynched. Many people drew comparisons between his death to
the hanging death of Robert Fuller,” The New York Daily News reported.

Fuller’s death had been pronounced suicide by authorities and the family of Harsch is worried his death will too be ruled a suicide. According to the Sheriff’s Department, the death of Harsch is still an active investigation, Victor Valley News Group (VVN) reported. 

“Our brother Malcolm Harsch died on May 31. His cause of death has not been released to the family yet but we are concerned that his death will be labeled as a suicide, as this is what was communicated to us upon confirmation of his death on the morning of June 1,” the family said in a statement to VVNG.

“Amidst the current racial tension and following the protesting the night prior to his body being discovered we were truly troubled to learn of his passing particularly of how his body was discovered. He is an African-American man whose body was found hanging from a tree!” the family said.

Harsch was found at 7 a.m. on May 31 near a homeless encampment in Victorville, Calif., where witnesses say he was living. Bystanders were performing CPR on Harsch when firefighters arrived at the scene, according to Sue Jones, the public information officer for the City of Victorville. Firefighters took over and tried to revive Harsch for 20 minutes before stopping, The New York Times reported.

“We grieve for Malcolm’s family and extend our deepest condolences,” Jones said. “Malcolm Harsch’s life mattered.”

Harmonie Harsch, 29, Harsch’s sister, said in an interview, “We are really just trying to get more answers as to what happened. My brother was so loving, not only to his family but even strangers. It is not like him.”

At a rally for Fuller, Diamond Alexander, his sister, said her brother’s death “did not make sense.”

“Everything that they’ve been telling us has not been right,” she said. “We’ve been hearing one thing. Then we hear another. And we just want to know the truth.”

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At around 3:39 a.m. on June 10, a passer-by discovered Fuller’s body hanging from a tree in Poncitlán Square across from Palmdale City Hall in north Los Angeles County, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Though the investigation was continuing, the authorities noted in their news release that “Mr. Fuller, tragically, committed suicide.” Fuller’s autopsy has not been completed, authorities said.

“My brother was not suicidal,” Alexander said. “He wasn’t.”

A petition demanding a full investigation into Fuller’s death had received more than 265,790 signatures as of Wednesday morning.

On the afternoon of May 27, 2019, police officers found Otis/Titi Gulley, 31, hanging. The deceased’s mother, Kenya Robinson, said the police have not listened to her concerns over the death. “You didn’t ask any questions,” said Robinson, referring to the police. “You saw a Black man in a tree who was in a homeless camp, and you wrote him off as being a transient homeless, and wrote it off as a suicide.”

Gulley, who identified as a woman, faced challenges in life. But family members said as far as they knew, suicide was never mentioned, and there were no attempts at self-harm, The Portland Mercury reported.