Port Jervis community commemorates life of Black man lynched by mob 130 years ago
Port Jervis residents and city officials came together Thursday to honor the life of a Black man who was lynched by an angry mob 130 years ago.
Robert Lewis was accused of sexually assaulting a white woman in Port Jervis back in 1892. That accusation was later revealed to be a rumor largely based on racism.
The mob grabbed 28-year-old Lewis at the police station with his hands tied behind his back and a rope around his neck. Lewis was beaten and kicked along the way. The mob then dragged him to a tree where he was hanged.
"He was bloody and half naked and he looked as if he was almost dead," said author Michael Worden, who felt this was a story that needed to be told. "The horror in that of itself is mindboggling."
Participants walked to remember Lewis and recognized the horrific event.
The group marched from City Hall to the site of the lynching near Ferguson Avenue, where a new historical marker was unveiled.
"I was a police officer here for 22 years and it’s one of the few unsolved homicides and deserves justice for that," Worden said.
Although it happened so long ago, Travis Brown, of Newark, New Jersey, said he still felt strong emotions as he unveiled the marker.
"I could imagine if that was my brother, if that was my father, if that was my uncle. I mean, what was he going through, helpless, just very painful," Brown said. He added that racism still lives today.
"Still to this day, it’s still going on. Maybe not in the form of lynching, like from a tree, but from police brutality, hate-on-hate, Black on Black crime, it’s still going on,” He said and added that there’s still work to be done.
"We want to make sure that things that happened wrongly in the past do not happen again," said Port Jervis Mayor Kelly Decker.