Body of missing black man Otis Byrd found hanging from tree in Mississippi

The FBI is working with local law enforcement to investigate the death of an African-American man named Otis Byrd, whose body was found hanging from a tree in Claiborne County, Mississippi, on Thursday.

According to Fox 40’s Melissa Faith Payne, Byrd was last seen 10 days prior when a friend dropped him off at Vicksburg’s Riverwalk Casino. The police were looking for him, as he had been reported missing. His body was found in the woods near his home, which is close to the Louisiana border.

It’s not yet known whether Byrd was lynched; the FBI haven’t ruled out a potential suicide. However, given the history of hate crimes in the US, his death is certainly suspicious. The NAACP wasted no time in asking the FBI to investigate his the incident fully, and it seems they are committed to doing so.

In reporting this likely hate crime, multiple media outlets have already dug up Byrd’s criminal record, as if one’s past convictions have any bearing on whether or not he deserves to be murdered by racists.

The reactions on Twitter thus far have called out the media for this time honored practice, as well as expressing certainty that Byrd was lynched and skepticism that any black man would ever commit suicide in this way.

Update via New York Daily News: According to an unidentified law enforcement official, the preliminary autopsy report indicates that it was likely a suicide.

[h/t Mediaite]