Last week, the Baltimore police union president, Gene Ryan, compared those protesting the death of Freddie Gray to a “lynch mob.”
The report continued: “Sources are conflicting regarding many of the details ... but what is certain is that on the evening of October 18 a mob of a thousand or more people stormed into the Princess Anne jail house and hauled Armwood from his cell down to the street below. Before he was hung from a tree some distance away, Armwood was dragged through the streets, beaten, stabbed, and had one ear hacked off. Armwood’s lifeless body was then paraded through the town, finally ending up near the town’s courthouse, where the mob doused the corpse with gasoline and set it on fire.”
Additionally, according to the historical society, there were 32 lynchings in Maryland between 1882 and 1931.
And this is not the first protest of the killing of people of color where “lynch mobs” have been invoked.
Fox News’ Howard Kurtz accused “some liberal outlets” of “creating almost a lynch mob mentality” in Ferguson.
Possible presidential candidate Mike Huckabee also compared Ferguson protesters to lynch mobs, as did Laura Ingraham, FrontPage magazine and an opinion piece on The Daily Caller.
In 2013, after almost completely peaceful protests the weekend after George Zimmerman was found not guilty in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, Newt Gingrich said that protesters were “prepared, basically, to be a lynch mob.”
“Lynch mob” is the same ghastly rhetorical overreach that is often bandied about in political discussions – including in this column I wrote seven years ago. It was a too-extreme comparison then, and it’s a too-extreme comparison now.
Nothing that political partisans or protesters have done – nothing! – comes remotely close to the barbarism executed by the lynch mobs that stain this country’s history.
The New York Times