Outrage ensued after police indicated that a young man black man found hanging from a tree in Palmdale, California, could have been a suicide caused by the coronavirus lockdowns.
The man was found with a rope around his neck hanging from a tree in the city’s Poncitlan Square on Wednesday morning, according to the Antelope Valley Times.
Lt. Brandon Dean of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau told the Times that all signs pointed to a suicide, but that they would await the results of an autopsy.
On Thursday, Palmdale City officials implied in a statement that the man could have killed himself over “extreme mental anguish” from the coronavirus crisis.
“City Manager J.J. Murphy received confirmation that this unfortunate incident was a death by suicide. Sadly, it is not the first such incident since the COVID-19 pandemic began,” the statement read after offering condolences to the family of the deceased man.
The statement went on to offer resources for those suffering mental anguish.
Social media erupts
Many people on social media questioned whether the man could have been the victim of a racist lynching.
At least one account demanded that the city be burned down if surveillance video isn’t released.
A petition was set up at Change.org demanding that the police investigate the matter fully and obtain any video that might have captured what happened the night of this death.
“We demand the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Palmdale Station and the City of Palmdale to conduct a full, thorough investigation into Robert’s death. We demand security footage in Poncitlan Square to be presented and audio of the call placed when his body was found. We demand justice to be served for Robert and his loved ones,” read the petition.