Another Black male was discovered hanging from a tree in a park in Morristown, NJ, and his death has been ruled a suicide, raising questions in the community. Hangings—long a symbol of racial terror against Blacks by whites—have been rising in cities across the nation amid protests over police-related killings of African-Americans.
Amani Kildea, 20, was found in Lewis Morris Park Sunday, June 28, about an hour from his home, according to MorristownGreen. Friends and family remembered Kildea, who graduated from basic training as a Military Policeman in the Army Reserves in February,
for his sensitivity toward mankind, and his sense of humor, the report says. He dreamed of becoming an FBI or CIA agent, and was set to attend James Madison University in the fall, the report notes.
“Everyone who met him, who knew him, young and old, admired him and loved him. He doubted that, but we knew it to be true,” his father, Rev. Tom Kildea, said in an online tribute.
Amani was adopted by white parents from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 2005 when he was five. He was known as a vigilante of sorts in the neighboring community of Washington Township, NJ, helping to bring child predators to justice with the use of an Instagram account, @Pedogotcaught.
Although a spokesperson from the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office initially declined to fully comment on Kildea’s death, prosecutor Fredric Knapp released this statement, dismissing concerns about foul play, saying, “There is no cause to believe there is any criminality involved. The Morris County Medical Examiner has determined the manner of death as suicide.”
However, according to a petition to bring light to Kildea’s death, many believe it was “clearly could have been a racially charged lynching,” according to a Change.org petition, as it suspiciously follows four hangings ruled suicides in California, New York City, and Houston in the last two months.
On June 15, an unidentified man was reportedly found dead and hanging from a tree in a vacant lot in Houston’s Shady Acres neighborhood. According to Houston Police Spokesperson Jodi Silva, the death is “believed to be a suicide,” however the official cause of death is pending until an autopsy is performed.
Just days before that, Robert Fuller, 24, was found hanging from a tree in the Los Angeles suburb of Palmdale, California on June 12. Malcolm Harsch, another Black man, was found dead in similar circumstances on May 31.
Harsh was found less than fifty miles from where Fuller’s body was discovered. In both cases, local authorities quickly ruled the deaths as suicide, saying no foul play was involved. However, community members and the families of the deceased are not convinced, and demand further investigation into the deaths.
Hanging from a tree is an image charged with the racist history of lynchings and that both men were found dead near city buildings — Fuller near City Hall and Harsch, near the public library — is raising questions. Fuller’s body was found in Palmdale, known to be a white conservative area.
A Change.org petition calling for an investigation into Harsch’s death has reached over 62,000 signatures, with a goal of 75,000.
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