A black man was found hanging from a tree in Mississippi

The NAACP has called on the Department of Justice to investigate the death of an African American man found hanging from a tree earlier today, MSNewsNow reported.

Claiborne County Sheriff Marvin Lucas has confirmed that the body of Otis James Byrd was found Thursday roughly half a mile from his last known residence in Claiborne County. Byrd, 54, disappeared 10 days ago after a friend dropped him off at the Riverwalk Casino in Vicksburg, MS.

“Mr. Otis Byrd’s body was [found] today, Thursday, March 19, 2015. After several days of missing, he was found hanged to death,” the NAACP wrote in an email to the Justice Department.

The organisation requested that the DOJ “join the current investigation of the suspicious hanging death of Mr. Otis Byrd,” according to MSNewsNow.

It is unclear if Byrd committed suicide or was murdered. An FBI forensics team is currently on the scene to determine whether any federal civil rights violations may have occurred, CNN reported.

“Investigators are currently processing the scene for evidence to determine the cause and manner of death,” according to a statement released by the FBI.

Lynching, or extrajudicial public execution by hanging, was once a common practice in parts of the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. By one estimate, some 3,500 African Americans and 1,300 whites were lynched from 1882 to 1968.

The incident comes seven months after a 17-year-old black male named Lennon Lacy was found hanging from a swing set in North Carolina, in a case local authorities initially ruled a suicide but which the FBI announced in December it was probing as suspicious.

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