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"Lynching in LaBelle"

20201201-121655-Henry Patterson cmyk.jpg
Brandon Jett
Memorial bench in Barron Park in LaBelle.

In 1926 a Black man named Henry Patterson who was working on road construction in LaBelle was wrongfully accused of assaulting a white woman and then lynched by dozens of white residents. The accusations were proven false, including being refuted by the woman, and 14 white men were arrested for his murder, and a grand jury trial began in Fort Myers. But, the trial fell apart and nobody was indicted in the end.

While lynchings were not uncommon in the south at the time, what made this case different was the attempt to prosecute. We learn more about the lynching of Henry Patterson with Florida Southwestern State College history professor Brandon Jett. He is creating a digital history project called “Lynching in LaBelle” that, once complete, will include primary and secondary sources with information related to the lynching, biographies of those involved in the trial, official documents from the investigation, court records, and other artifacts that he and three students in his African American History course collected. You can find it at lynchinginlabelle.com.