The City of New Orleans will be issuing an official Proclamation of Apology on April 12 regarding the largest lynching in U.S. history, according to a statement issued by Order Sons and Daughters of Italy in America.
Following the murder of New Orleans Police Chief David Hennessy on Oct. 16, 1890, several Italian immigrants were arrested without just cause. Nine of the 19 men who were indicted went to trial, which resulted in six acquittals and three mistrials (because the jurors couldn’t agree on a verdict).
In reaction to this — on March 14, 1891 — a mob formed outside of Parish Prison. The rioters broke inside and dragged 11 of the Italian immigrants out of the prison. Those 11 Italians were hung, shot, and/or clubbed to death in the city streets—marking the largest lynching in American history.
Five of those who were killed had not even been tried in court. Eight of the wrongfully imprisoned Italian immigrants survived the lynch mob by managing to hide in the prison itself. Afterward, the charges against them were dropped, and they were set free. In the end, 11 Italian immigrants were lynched for a murder that was never solved, and those who were guilty of the lynching were never arrested and brought to justice.
The Presentation of the Official Proclamation of Apology for this tragic event will be made by the Mayor of New Orleans, LaToya Cantrell, on Friday, April 12 at 11 a.m. at the American Italian Cultural Center–located at 537 South Peters St. New Orleans, La.
For more information regarding the proclamation event, contact Michael A. Santo, Esq. by phone (516) 551-5503, or by email AttySANTO@gmail.com