Law \ Legal

Are Authorities in Rural Iowa Ignoring a Lynching?


Law enforcement authorities in Iowa are refusing to consider that the murder of Grinnell resident Michael Williams, a Black man who had been hanged to death and then set on fire by a white man and then dumped in an almost exclusively white part of the state in 2020, had been motivated by racism, reports Jordan Michael Smith for The Guardian.

Williams was among the handful of Black people in Grinnell, a town of 9,500 that is more than 90 percent white. The man charged with the murder, Steven Vogel, who Williams associated with, allegedly beat him with a baseball bat after suspecting that Williams was having an affair with his wife. He then tied a rope around Williams’s neck, threw it around the basement rafter, and hung him.  From the outset of the investigation, authorities rejected a racial motive. Williams’s family say authorities neglected them during parts of the investigation. Michael Williams’s murder would count as one of the nearly 2,900 anti-Black incidents reported in the US in 2020, a 49 percent increase over the year prior.

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