Ceremony held to remember lynching victims in Escambia County

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More than a hundred and fifty people gathered at Plaza Ferdinand in downtown Pensacola Thursday afternoon.

They honored two black men who were lynched by mobs there in the early 1900's.

David Alexander was lynched in 1909 and Leander Shaw was lynched in 1908.

"Part of this truth and reconciliation process is to include our history whether it be good or bad," said organizer Teniade Broughton.

Gary Lee protested the ceremony. He said his great-great aunt was killed by Shaw.

"She gave her life for this event you are attending," said Lee.

"He wound up with a gun that he ended up beating her in the face with so bad that her teeth were embedded in the butt of the gun. After that he raped her and cut her throat and left her for dead and all this took place in front of the daughter. She was three and a half years old," Lee added.

To diffuse tensions between protesters and people attending the ceremony, Lee was invited to light a candle in her memory.

"I mean his family member was killed. I recognized his sadness. I'm glad I was able to incorporate him into the program," said Broughton.

Organizers collected soil from the site and put it into two glass jars for both of the victims.

They will send the soil to the National Monument for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Ala.

The event was hosted by a non-profit called the Equal Justice Initiative.

The group has documented more than 4,000 lynchings across the country.

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