Criminal Activities

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Entries - Entry Category: Criminal Activities - Starting with L

Labor Day Bombings of 1959

The Labor Day bombings in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1959 represented the last gasp of opposition to the desegregation of the capital city’s Central High School. Coming almost two years to the day after the Little Rock Nine’s first attempt to attend Central High, the coordinated set of explosions evinced a stark and violent reminder of the continuing racial tensions in Arkansas’s capital. The damage was limited, however, and the effort was arguably more symbolic than substantive. At the same time, the bombings highlighted the fact that, while the determined effort to resist the integration of Central High had finally been overcome—with the historic high school having opened its doors for the 1959–60 school year to a student body …

Lavy, Thomas Lewis

Thomas L. Lavy was an accused terrorist who committed suicide, hanging himself in his jail cell in Little Rock (Pulaski County) while awaiting trial in December 1995. While his death ended the ongoing investigation, it also left numerous questions as to what he had done and what he had intended to do. Thomas Lewis Lavy was born on December 18, 1941, in Winfield, Missouri, the second child of Littleton Lavy and Cora Yates Lavy. He was raised in Troy, Missouri, where he received his basic education. Following school, Lavy apparently joined the U.S. Army, although there are questions about the time and nature of his service. While there are reports that he was a military policeman in the Korean War, …

Lewis, Sanford (Lynching of)

At midnight on March 23, 1912, a mob hanged Sanford Lewis from a trolley pole in Fort Smith (Sebastian County). He had been suspected of shooting Deputy Constable Andy Carr, who sustained a fatal wound above the eye. Although the Arkansas Gazette refers to this as the first lynching in Sebastian County, it was actually the first lynching of an African American there. The murder of a white man named James Murray in the county on December 6, 1897, was described in many media outlets as a lynching. Deputy Constable Andy Carr was probably the Andy Care [sic] listed on the census as living in Ward 4 in Fort Smith in 1910. Living with him were his wife, Della, and …

Lightfoot, G. P. F. (Lynching of)

In December 1892, African-American Baptist minister G. P. F. Lightfoot, referred to in most accounts as “Preacher Lightfoot,” was murdered by a group of African Americans in Jackson County in retaliation for taking their money and promising them nonexistent passage to Liberia. Interest in immigrating to Africa started early in the United States. The Back-to-Africa movement dates back to 1816, when the American Colonization Society (ACS) was established to help free blacks resettle in Africa. The Republic of Liberia was established in 1847 and was recognized by the U.S. government in 1864. Following the Civil War, many newly freed Arkansas slaves became interested in the movement, especially those in majority-black counties in the Arkansas Delta. The Liberian Exodus Arkansas Colony …

Livingston, Abe (Lynching of)

Although apparently only one Arkansas newspaper covered it, in late August 1884 an African-American man named Abe Livingston was hanged in Desha County for allegedly robbing and threatening a white man named William Kite. A search of public records revealed no information on either Kite or Livingston. According to an August 26 article in the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Daily Independent, which was reprinted a week later in the Batesville Guard, Livingston was a “dangerous negro” who, sometime earlier in 1884, had robbed Kite. He was arrested at the time and put in jail in Arkansas City (Desha County). At some point in July, he escaped from jail. While he was free, he allegedly made several attempts to kill Kite and also …

Livingston, Frank (Lynching of)

Former soldier Frank Livingston was burned alive at age twenty-five near El Dorado (Union County) on May 21, 1919, for the alleged murder of his employer. Livingston’s lynching was among several similar incidents in Arkansas involving returned African-American World War I–era servicemen. At the time of the 1910 census, Frank Livingston was living with his parents, Nelson and India Livingston, and his three brothers in Tubal Township, Union County. Although the census record indicates that Frank was born around 1893, subsequent draft records give his birthdate as November 1, 1892, in Shuler (Union County). Nelson Livingston and his two older sons, Ruf and Frank, were working as farmers on the “home farm.” Frank Livingston’s parents could read and write, but …

Lonoke County Lynching of 1910

On April 4, 1910, Frank Pride and Laura Mitchell were lynched near Keo (Lonoke County) for allegedly murdering Pride’s wife and Mitchell’s husband, Wiley. The lynch mob was composed entirely of African Americans, one of a number of such lynchings in Arkansas. According to historian Karlos Hill, such lynchings were the result of African Americans’ lack of faith in the white judicial system. The lynchings often occurred in close-knit plantation societies and were an attempt to enforce community morals. Most, as in this case, occurred in domestic situations. There is almost no information available on Frank Pride or Laura and Wiley Mitchell. Newspaper accounts indicate that Pride was fifty years old, and Laura Mitchell ten years younger. Frank Pride was …

Lonoke County Race War of 1897–1898

The situation in Lonoke County was dire for African Americans during the latter half of 1897 and early 1898. In June 1897, a black normal (teacher-training) school was ransacked and one of the teachers severely whipped. In September, that same teacher was found dead. In December, Oscar Simonton, an African-American merchant, was attacked and his store ransacked. In February the following year, notices were placed on the doors of black residents warning them to leave the county on pain of death. This was closely followed by the burning of black homes and schoolhouses. Trouble had flared up several times in the county dating all the way back to Reconstruction. Many of the reports on the 1898 events refer to a …

Lowery, Henry (Lynching of)

The January 26, 1921, lynching of Henry Lowery stands out for its barbarism, as well as the national and international attention it received, happening at a time when the U.S. Congress was debating anti-lynching legislation. The brutal murder of Lowery was used in a national campaign to pass such legislation, though this proved unsuccessful. Henry Lowery was an African-American tenant farmer in Mississippi County. Lowery is reported to have disputed a matter of payment with a local planter named O. T. Craig, whose land was adjacent to that of Lee Wilson, owner of the largest cotton plantation in the South. On Christmas Day of 1920, Lowery, forty years old at the time, became intoxicated, according to reports, and decided to …

Luciano, Charles “Lucky”

aka: Salvatore Lucania
Charles “Lucky” Luciano was an Italian-American gangster who was said by the FBI to be the man who “organized” organized crime in the United States. In many ways, he was the model for the character Don Corleone in the popular book and movie, The Godfather (1972). He evaded arrest and survived attempted gangland assassinations only to meet his downfall in 1936 while vacationing in Hot Springs (Garland County). Luciano was born Salvatore Lucania on November 24, 1897, in Lercara Friddi, Sicily, the third of five children to Antonio Lucania and Rosalie Capporelli Lucania. His mother kept house, and his father worked in the sulfur mines as well as doing whatever work he could find in the poor hillside village near …

Lynching

Lynching was an extra-legal form of group violence, performed without judicial due process. Scholars enumerating cases of lynching consider only those cases in which an actual murder occurs, though some states had laws against the crime of “lynching in the second degree,” in which death did not result to the victim. Lynchings, especially in the American South, have typically been perpetrated on marginalized groups—predominately African Americans, but also Jews, immigrants, homosexuals, and criminals. In his 1999 dissertation on lynching, Richard Buckelew documented 318 lynchings in Arkansas, 231 of which were directed against black victims, but additional research since then has increased the number. According to the traditional view, prior to the Civil War, most lynchings were carried out by individuals …