Alonzo Tucker:

The Story

On February 29, 2020, a crowd of 200 gathered in Coos Bay for a soil-collection ceremony near the spot where 28-year-old Alonzo Tucker was killed.

The soil was collected from three locations and each bit of soil told part of Alonzo Tucker’s story.

First Batch

The first bit was gathered from the mudflats underneath the local docks.

After being accused of sexually assaulting a White woman, Alonzo Tucker was arrested, and a mob formed with the intention of lynching him. In the midst of being transported away from the mob, Alonzo Tucker escaped and hid in the mudflats underneath the local docks. The mob stationed guards across town and kept watch throughout the night.

This soil also holds where Alonzo Tucker was eventually found the next morning with the crucial detail being that he was discovered by two young boys. Meaning that just like a Southern lynching, this Oregon lynching had become so communal that even children were involved in the hunt for Alonzo Tucker.

Second Batch

Alonzo Tucker would try to escape the mob, and despite being once shot in the leg, he managed to run into a shop and cry, “Lord, have mercy on a colored man.”

However, there would be no mercy for him. The soil gathered from the second location was where Alonzo Tucker would once again be shot, this time in the upper body. This left him incapacitated and allowed the mob to put a noose around his neck and throw him in the back of a cart with the intention of lynching him from the spot of the alleged assault.

They wouldn’t make it that far as Alonzo Tucker would die from the gunshot wounds.

Third Batch

The third bit of soil was gathered from where the old Marshfield Bridge used to be, which was where the mob strung up Alonzo Tucker from a light pole in front of a crowd of 300 and left his body hanging there for several hours.
1902 Reaction (1)

The 1902 Reaction

News of this lynching made headlines across Oregon and even across the country.

Most newspapers were sympathetic to the lynch mob. One newspaper wrote that “the crowd which witnessed the last act of the tragedy is estimated at about 300. They were quiet and orderly, and it is safe to say that no such lawless proceedings were ever conducted with less unnecessary disturbance of the peace.”

Despite this all occurring in broad daylight without a masked man in the crowd, no one would ever be held accountable for the lynching of Alonzo Tucker. Following this event, African Americans would flee the Coos Bay area over fears of future violence.

The Myth

One of the most common causes of lynching was the accusation of sexual assault. During the 19th and 20th centuries, the myth of the Black male rapist permeated society.

Academics promoted the field of scientific racism and developed theories to legitimate the claim that Black men were dangerous subhumans predisposed to rape. Minstrel shows, racist chromolithography, and early American films embedded the image of “the Black male rapist” into the American consciousness.

Societal Fear

Despite the overwhelming history of the rape of Black women at the hands of white men, there was an immense societal fear at the mere thought of sexual contact between a Black man and a white woman. It was a widely held belief at the time that a white woman couldn’t willingly consent to sex with a Black man.

Any action that could remotely be interpreted as a Black man seeking sexual contact with a white woman was subject to this pervasive fear. Something as innocuous as a Black man accidentally bumping into a white woman could result in the accusation of sexual assault.

In 1974, a Coos Bay World newspaper reporter interviewed three white men who were boys at the time of the 1902 lynching and they provided eyewitness accounts.

All three men believed Alonzo Tucker was lynched over a consensual relationship with the woman who accused him of assault.

Discover More

Read our articles to learn about Alonzo Tucker.

A New Chapter

On June 19, 2021, a community gathered to pay witness to the lynching of Alonzo Tucker at the unveiling of his historical marker. The historical marker was more than just a retelling of history. It was also the making of history.

True Justice

In order to truly find reconciliation for the lynching of Alonzo Tucker, we must end the death penalty in Oregon. The power to find this reconciliation lays solely in the hands of Oregon voters.