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The Mass Lynching of Italian-Americans in New Orleans: Home

Lynch Mob

     Most people do not realize that Italian-Americans were the victims of lynch mobs. The largest mass lynching of Italian-Americans occurred in New Orleans on March 14, 1891.

     Following the murder of Police Chief Hennessy on the evening of October 15, 1890, Italians and Italian-Americans were rounded up by the hundreds. Some of these men were held at the old Parish Prison for trial. The closely watched trial of a number of these men resulted in several acquittals and a mistrial. A large crowd of New Orleans citizens, unhappy with the result, marched to and broke into the parish prison. They murdered both the men on trial and those yet to be tried, eleven in all. The police did nothing to stop them.

 Magazine page featuring two illustrations. The larger illustration (i) shows a mob scene with armed men gathering on Canal Street at the base of the Henry Clay statue, and a man with uplifted fist addressing the crowd. A smaller inset illustration at the top right (ii) shows six men lying wounded and dead outside prison cells, with armed men leaving the scene. The illustrations reference the lynching of a group of Italian immigrants following their acquittal of the murder of police chief David Hennessey. The mob traveled to the Orleans Parish Prison after the gathering at the Henry Clay statue, chased the immigrants from their place of protection, and extrajudicially executed them.

The Historic New Orleans Collection, Acc. No. 1979.199 i, ii.


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Francis Norton
Law Library of Louisiana
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New Orleans, Louisiana 70130

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