As Palmdale Grapples With A Hanging Death, Locals Recall The Area's Racist History

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tags: racism, California, lynching

The Antelope Valley's decades of entrenched racism have helped fuel the outcry over the death of 24-year-old Robert Fuller, a Black man found hanging from a tree in Palmdale, Calif., earlier this month.

Many locals are skeptical that Fuller's death was a suicide — the initial explanation that the L.A. County Sheriff's Department issued and then retracted days later.

Some call it a lynching. Thousands have poured into Palmdale's streets, at times shutting down traffic. They're demanding an independent investigation by California's attorney general.

The area has a troubled racial history. Neo-Nazis and skinheads have lurked in the area for decades, and for years L.A. County officials — in collusion with Sheriff's deputies — were systematically discriminating against Black people.

Because of that history, it's easy for locals to think the worst happened to Fuller.

During one recent march, Aezana Nora — he grew up in Palmdale, is Black, and is around the same age as Fuller — spoke about how Fuller's death affected him.

"The things that I've gone through — that could have been me," he said, holding a skateboard and walking with protesters along a busy street.

Nora, 27, remembers being told by white classmates that the KKK was going to get him. He said when he was 12 years old, he was chased out of a restaurant by men with swastika tattoos.

"They got into their truck and followed us," Nora said. "We kind of ran into the desert area that we were close to, and ran and hid in a bush."

Read entire article at NPR

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