Lynching law stirs controversy

This article in the Charleston (South Carolina) Post and Courier discusses the "strange fruit" borne by South Carolina's lynching law. The law was intended to protect blacks against vigilante justice in the form of lynch mobs, but blacks are now prosecuted under the statute 4.5 times more than whites. South Carolina law defines lynching as any act of violence by two or more people against another, regardless of race.

The article notes that South Carolina is one of only four states that still use lynching statutes routinely. West Virginia is another. (See W.Va. Code 61-6-12). West Virgnia's statute, however, appears to be more narrowly drafted: "Any collection of individuals, five or more in number, assembled for the unlawful purpose of offering violence to the person or property of anyone supposed to have been guilty of a violation of the law, or for the purpose of exercising correctional or regulative powers over any person or persons by violence, and without lawful authority, shall be regarded and designated as a 'mob' or 'riotous assemblage.'"