Piedmont Park Hanging: No, Sam Hyde Did Not Lynch a Black Man in the Atlanta Park
On Thursday, police discovered the body of a young black man between the ages of 25-35 hanging from a tree in Piedmont Park, a 185-acre urban green space in Atlanta. Emergency responders pronounced the man dead at the scene.
Donald Hannah, a spokesman for the Atlanta Police Department, told the public that a "Fulton County medical examiner concurred that the death was consistent with a suicide" because "[there] were no discernible signs of a struggle or foul play," the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
But in the wake of a harrowing 48 hours for the African-American community, in which the brutal killings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling at the hands of police officers were both captured on video, the black community and its allies' distrust of law enforcement, the media and elected officials has reached something of a fever pitch.
#PiedmontParkHanging became one of the top trends in the U.S. as the black community and its allies took to Twitter to cry foul at the statement from the APD.
As of Thursday evening, an autopsy has not been performed. The name of the deceased is unavailable to the public at this time. The case has been referred to the FBI.
Though little information is known at this time, and Mic could not immediately confirm the veracity of claims circulating the trending hashtag, including whether or not the Ku Klux Klan passed out fliers at Piedmont Park on Wednesday night or whether Piedmont Park is a favorite spot for KKK rallies, one fact remains absolutely certain: Once again, Sam Hyde is not responsible for the Piedmont Park hanging.
No, Atlanta Police have not named him the primary suspect.
No, the New York Times did not report this.
No, this is not a photo of Sam Hyde fleeing the scene of the Piedmont Park hanging.
If none of this is true, then why are so many Twitter users reporting that it is? As Mic reported on Wednesday, when Twitter blamed Hyde for the killing of Alton Sterling, the spread of Hyde's name — and all the misinformation that goes along with it — after the killing of an African-American man enraged the black community, and is nothing more or less than the handiwork of 4chan, a message board site that has become synonymous with the dregs of digital society.
"This is the same crew that photoshopped a Koran into the hands of Sikh man Veerender Jubbal to blame him for the Paris shootings," Mic's Jack Smith originally reported, "[and] the burgeoning white nationalist alt-right movement is often described as the spilling out of chan culture into the mainstream."
Here's the Twitter account belonging to the user who claimed that Atlanta Police named Sam Hyde as their prime suspect:
And here's the account that claims the New York Times did the same:
And the Twitter account that claimed it had a photo of Sam Hyde fleeing the scene of the Piedmont Park hanging?
It is unclear how or why the alt-right became obsessed with using Sam Hyde as a meme of misinformation.
As a distrust of law enforcement spurs a community to seek the truth from elsewhere, the alt-right and its reliable penchant for spreading misinformation in the wake of incidents like the Piedmont Park hanging serve as an important reminder to always check your sources.