Tuesday, February 23, 2016

June 15, 1923: "Gray Eye" Simmons

Today we learn about a lynching in Florida through the pages of The Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, Florida) dated June 16, 1923:


Assailant Declared Bootlegger Ordered Shooting


Resulted From Single Handed Raid of a Pool Room

(By Associated Press)

Miami, June 15.—Town Marshal Charles R. Bryant, of Homestead, was shot to death this afternoon in a pool room in the negro quarter of Homestead, when he attempted to make a liquor raid single handed. Thirty minutes later a negro known as "Gray Eye" Simmons, his slayer, was bound to a tree by a crowd of men and riddled with bullets.

Bryant and his 14-year-old son drove up to the pool room in an automobile about 2 o'clock. Bryant went inside and mounted the stairs to the second floor. According to information furnished by other negroes, he was met by a fusillade of bullets from a revolver wielded by Simmons. A few minutes later Bryant's boy, who had driven away, returned and went upstairs after his father. He found the place deserted and his father's body on the floor.

Simmons escaped from the place by jumping into an automobile truck parked in the street and fleeing. The crowd, which had hastily gathered in the business section of the city when news of the murder was carried there by another excited negro, gave chase and captured the slayer several miles down the road. He was brought back and lynched within fifty feet from the scene of the murder. Before his death he had declared that he had been employed by a white man, for whom he sold moonshine, to shoot Bryant, who had been active against bootleggers.

In response to a call which said further race trouble was feared, Sheriff Allen and several deputies and Chief of Police Quigg of Miami, rushed to Homestead in automobiles. They arrested a white man, J. E. Anderson. He was brought back and lodged in the city jail. No formal charge has been preferred against him.

Homestead was quiet tonight and a search for two other negroes had been abandoned. Simmons is said to have confessed before he was lynched.

Bryant leaves three children, the oldest 14. His wife died a week ago and was buried Monday.

Thank you for joining me and as always, I hope I leave you with something to ponder.

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