128 Years Later, New Orleans is Apologizing for Lynching 11 Italians


New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell is set to issue a first-ever apology to Italian-Americans for the city's role in the largest mass lynching in U.S. history, which killed 11 Italians in New Orleans in 1891. The lynching was sparked when a jury acquitted more than a dozen Italians who were rounded up in the wake of Police Commissioner David Hennessy's murder. A mob proceeded to storm the prison where the Italians were held, leaving the bodies "riddled by bullets or hanged to lamp posts."

The OSDIA Commission for Social Justice said it expects Cantrell to present the "Official Proclamation of Apology" in a ceremony on the morning of April 12 at the city's American Italian Cultural Center. Mike Santo, who serves as special counsel for the commission, said he became aware of the lynching a few years ago, realizing how the 1891 lynching was a "longstanding wound" for the Italian-American community.

Santo said it's "very easy to walk away from a problem," but that it was refreshing to see history acknowledged.

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