“Our country’s national crime is lynching,” Wells-Barnett wrote in her January 1900 article “Lynch Law in America,” while discussing the celebratory and ritualistic nature of mass mob spectacle lynchings, concluding that “butchery is made a pastime and national savagery condoned.” 1 A few months later, her research into the death of African American Robert Charles, published in Mob Rule in New Orleans: Robert Charles and his Fight to Death, the Story of his Life, Burning Human Beings Alive, Other Lynching Statistics, proved the veracity of these remarks. On July 23, 1900, Robert Charles and another black man, Leonard Pierce, strolled through town intending to visit a friend. Finding their associate not at home yet, the two men sat down to wait on the doorstep. The sight of two black men lingering in a predominantly white neighborhood prompted inquiry, and soon three white police officers approached the men, questioning what they were doing. Charles replied that he was “waiting for a friend,” and “in less than three minutes” from the time the police approached the men, they “attempted to put both colored men under arrest.” 2 While one officer grabbed Charles, the other struck him on his head, and Charles, a believer in self-defense, drew his gun. In the following scuffle, both the officers and Charles fired shots, and all were wounded. After an injured Charles fled the scene, a citywide manhunt ensued. The mayor issued the following public statement:

Under the authority vested in me by law, I hereby offer, in the name of the city of New Orleans, $250 reward for the capture and delivery, dead or alive, to the authorities of the city, the body of the Negro murderer, ROBERT CHARLES… PAUL CAPDEVIELLE, Mayor. 3