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New Push To Reopen Investigation Into 1997 Death Of A Black Man In Anderson, Calif.

Matthew Wolcott/City of Anderson Facebook page

Some Shasta County residents are bringing attention to a case in which a black man died suspiciously in the late 1990s. This is following several recent deaths in which black men died by hanging.

Leo Coleman Junior was 31 years old in 1997 when he was found dead in the small Northern California town of Anderson. He was found hanging from a tree near the local high school.

The police ruled it a suicide and closed the case in two days, despite several reports that he may have been murdered. His family reported finding swastikas carved into the tree where he died.

Recent deaths involving black men who died suspiciously by hanging has led Coleman’s family and friends to start an online campaign through Facebook and Change.org.

They hope that renewed attention will motivate anyone with information to come forward.

Concerned Shasta County residents are planning to rally in front of the Anderson Police Department Wednesday night in memory of Leo Coleman Junior.

Correction: An earlier version of the headline on this story stated Leo Coleman Jr. died in 1994. The headline has been corrected to reflect the fact that he died in 1997.

April Ehrlich is JPR content partner at Oregon Public Broadcasting. Prior to joining OPB, she was a regional reporter at Jefferson Public Radio where she won a National Edward R. Murrow Award.