A Gruesome First

Dec. 27, 1907
Henryetta, Okla., by the Associated Press

A little more than a month after Oklahoma achieved statehood, James Garden became a wretched statistic: the first black to be lynched there.

On Dec. 24, Garden went to see liveryman Albert Bates about renting a rig. When Bates refused, Garden accused him of racism, went across the street to get a gun, returned and shot Bates to death.

By nightfall, a group of 100 men stormed the jail, fought off police officers and hanged Garden from a telegraph pole in the center of town, then used his body for target practice, riddling it with bullets.

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