The FBI will review the death of an 18-year-old in Washington State who was reported missing in November but whose body was found in January, the victim of an apparent hanging. The Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office at first labeled the death a suicide but later changed its ruling to “undetermined,” citing the “very high tree branch” involved and an absence of any reports of suicidal thoughts or attempts.
Ben Keita, an African-American Muslim, disappeared from his home last fall without his car, wallet or phone. Police said Keita had stopped attending classes a few weeks before his disappearance.
— KUOW Public Radio (@KUOW) March 1, 2017
FBI to review case of Muslim teen found dead in Washington state https://t.co/TWM7IFVZjV
— WTOP (@WTOP) March 2, 2017
This is dreadful. Hung from a high branch. No known suicidal ideation. Coroner couldn't in good conscience write it off as suicide. https://t.co/9G1ozfwAmd
— (((aweisburd))) (@webradius) March 3, 2017
It’s a tragic story regardless; however, many suspect that Keita was lynched. The Council on Islamic American Relations-Washington is among those groups that urged the FBI to investigate.
If it seems that this is another “local news story,” keep in mind that it’s remarkably similar to a case from last year where a young black man was found hanged in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park. Social media lit up with accusations of a lynching and rumors that the KKK had been spotted near the park, and protesters hit the streets to demand answers — maybe not the answers they got, but answers.
Black Man Found Hanging In Atlanta Park, KKK Lynching Suspected https://t.co/JQcvw4LZDo
— Douglas H Millis (@Doughravme) July 10, 2016
The FBI was called in to assist, although in the end it looked like a suicide after all. It seems overly simple to say but necessary nonetheless: just because a person had a bright future and didn’t “seem sad” doesn’t mean he or she wasn’t suicidal.
What really happened to the man found hanging in Piedmont Park – Atlanta Magazine https://t.co/VnyTWy6XQH
— Michelle J Robinson (@MJanineRobinson) July 14, 2016
— TheGailyGrind (@thegailygrind) July 15, 2016
So here we are again — which is not to conclude that the hanging in Washington State was indeed a suicide. However, something’s wrong when so many people need only two factors to determine that an unexplained death was a lynching.
— Lamont Lilly (@LamontLilly) March 3, 2017
@KUOW ‘found hanging’…. you mean he was lycnched Ku Klux Klan style.
— Alternative Jonathan (@greenlaserbeams) March 3, 2017
A Muslim Teen was HANGED, I repeat, HANGED in the year 2017 and the world does not even blink an eye
— McBaŋɠ (@TheMcBang) March 2, 2017
MEDIA BLACKOUT: Modern Day LYNCHING of Muslim Teen, Found Hanged In Woods Near Seattle https://t.co/Rkup1S0VLU
— Susanna Sisson (@SusannaSSails) March 3, 2017
— Hassan™ (@HassanPRG) March 2, 2017
a black, muslim teen was found hanged in the woods and y'all have the audacity to say racism doesn't exist anymore https://t.co/eT6yvcrMN9
— karishma ?? (@warholzjm) March 2, 2017
Lynching never disappeared in US, it went underground. Long history of similar cases https://t.co/cPS3losRE6
— Lucy Michael (@lucy_s_michael) March 2, 2017
The other night while tweeting about mosques' burning, I held back from saying we are one step away from lynchings https://t.co/vIdwDeApLy
— Asma (@LibyanBentBladi) March 2, 2017
— Dawud Walid (@DawudWalid) March 2, 2017
— Hillary Won, Period! (@igob4u2) March 3, 2017
Maybe the tragedy didn’t make January headlines because the medical examiner found no evidence to prove that it was the lynching so many seem absolutely certain happened.
Is it too much to let the FBI review the case before demanding #JusticeForBenKeita? If this tragedy, like the one in Atlanta, was a suicide, it hardly seems like justice for Ben to mischaracterize his death in the name of social justice.
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