Updates To The Piedmont Park Hanging Investigation

by Stephanie Casella

In a seemingly endless series of tragedies across the nation over the past week, a black man was found hanging in Atlanta, Georgia's famous Piedmont Park on Thursday. Police have said that the incident appears consistent with suicide rather than foul play, but many in the public have been concerned about exactly how he died since the discovery on July 7. In the aftermath of the Alton Sterling and Philando Castile shootings in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Falcon Heights, Minnesota, respectively, and the shootings of 11 police officers in Dallas, Texas, the public has questions. Here are some updates to the Piedmont Park investigation.

On Thursday, July 7, a member of the Piedmont Park security team found a black man, between the ages of 25 and 35, hanging from a rope on a tree near the Charles Allen entrance to the park. Grady EMS units responded and found that the person showed no vital signs. Upon investigation, both GI units and a Fulton County medical examiner agreed that the death was consistent with a suicide, as no indications of a struggle or foul play were evident. Marks and pollen were found on the person's clothing, and a large, green, wheeled garbage can was found next to the tree, which police say may suggest he did climb to where he was found.

However, medical professionals still have yet to complete an autopsy, and the Atlanta Police Department are still investigating this case heavily, which will provide clearer answers as to what might have occurred early that morning.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed issued a statement Thursday afternoon, which states that the city has referred the case to the FBI due to the sociopolitical implications of this incident, especially since various accounts allege that the Ku Klux Klan was active in Piedmont Park only the night prior to and likely only hours before this man's death, though those reports have not been confirmed.

In the meantime, protests continue to occur throughout Atlanta, both in response to the various deaths throughout America and the Piedmont Park hanging victim. Some Americans have shown upset and concern that there is minimal media coverage of this matter, and that there are still no certain answers regarding the man who was found in the Atlanta park. Many — especially in the black community — questioned why a black male would take his own life in such a sadly symbolic way, during these politically-trying times, and especially in the South, where events of lynching peaked during the 1800s and 1900s.

Whether or not there is any truth to the supposed KKK revival that may or may not have revealed itself in Piedmont Park is still undetermined. The FBI is following up with their own investigation, though Mayor Reed insists that these are only rumors. He explained in an interview on Friday, "I've been following Internet, social media chatter, and they're just saying a bunch of things that are not true. We have reviewed our video cameras, we have spoken to a number of individuals, and we have not found any evidence that the KKK was in Piedmont Park distributing materials."

Despite all of this, the #PiedmontPark hashtag continues to trend on Twitter, and Black Lives Matter is holding strong as the public awaits answers.