A North Carolina Man Survived a 1952 Lynching and Is Finally Sharing His Story
In 1952, in Wake County, N.C., then-police chief Sam Bagwell arrested eight Black men, accusing them of robbing a local convenience store.
One of the men arrested Lynn Council, who maintained his innocence, and is now 86, finally shares harrowing details of how he was hanged for this robbery that he didn’t commit.
According to WFMY News 2, the robbery took place outside of Bagwell’s jurisdiction, so Bagwell took Council and the others to Wake County jail. All of the men were questioned, but Council was singled out.
“I didn’t do it,” Council said to WFMY News 2. “But I was taken to jail on Tuesday. I was tried on Wednesday, and I was hung on Thursday.”
The day following Council’s arrest, he alleges that two sheriff deputies drove him to a remote location 10 miles into the country, where sheriff deputies led him to a tree and tied a noose around his neck.
“I thought they were going to drive me out, string me up and leave me to die there,” Council said to WFMY News 2.
Council recalled to WFMY News 2 that the deputies did hang Council for about a minute before letting him down, in an attempt to intimidate him, wanting him to confess to the robbery.
“They said, ‘Tell me where that money at?'” Council recalled.
After hanging for about one minute, Council said he was let down, driven back to Wake County Jail, and released the following day. Until recently, the Council has never revealed this disturbing story.
In 2019, Council’s story reached members of the local press, as well as Apex Police Chief John Letteney, who removed Sam Bagwell’s name from the walk outside the police station, according to WFMY News 2. WFMY also reports that Letteney publicly denounced Bagwell, whose racial violence has been well-documented, according to WFMY, and apologized to Council.
WFMY reported that Sheriff Gerald Baker presented Lynn with numerous honors, including the key to the Wake County jail, and publicly and profusely apologized to him.
“I wanted Lynn to know that as long as I humbly hold this office, there can not, and will not act like this from our department. This department has come a long way from back then, but we all still have a long way to go,” Baker said.