Outrage in Rockland: The Lynching of Howard Cooper
Will Schwarz, 15 minutes, USA
On July 13, 1885, Howard Cooper, a fifteen year-old black boy, was lynched by a white mob in Towson, Maryland. Cooper was accused of attacking a young woman as she walked home from a train station.
An all-white jury found Cooper guilty of assault and rape, even though the victim did not testify she was raped. The jury never left the courtroom, reaching its verdict in less than a minute. The rape conviction triggered the death penalty.
Claiming his 14th Amendment rights were violated because blacks were excluded from the jury, Cooper’s attorneys planned to file an appeal to the US Supreme Court. However, the night before the appeal was to be filed, an enraged mob stormed the jail just after midnight, dragged Cooper from his cell and hanged from a nearby sycamore tree. (It was reported by the local press that the mob waited until after midnight because they didn’t want to lynch a man on a Sunday.)
“Outrage in Rockland” tells Cooper’s story using interviews, newspaper accounts and animation layered over shots of the actual sites where his tragic story played out. This was one of 42 known racial terror lynchings in Maryland