Lynching of John Evans
On November 12, 1914, African American laborer John Evans was lynched at this location by a secret cabal of fifteen influential St. Petersburg residents who coordinated the capture and release of Evans to a mob of several hundred armed men. The leaders of the group conspired to kill Evans rather than allow him to face trial for his alleged crime. A crowd estimated to consist of 1500 men, women, and children watched and cheered as Evans was executed before them.
Backstory and Context
On November 12, 1914, the intersection of 2nd Ave and 9th Street South in Saint Petersburg was the scene of the lynching of John Evans, a migrant black farm worker. Evans was dragged out of the city jail on Central Avenue by a mob of several hundred armed white men. Rather than kill Evans outside the jail, they took him to this intersection because they wanted to send a message to the residents of a nearby black neighborhood. But before the mob hung Evans from a lightpole, an anonymous white woman shot him. Evans' dead body was then hung from the lightpole. Following the now-ceremonial lynching, the angry mob pulled his lifeless body down and fired their weapons for 10 minutes into Evans lifeless body so that all could feel as though they had participated in his execution.
Evans had been accused of murdering white real estate developer Edward Sherman and attacking his wife Mary. Mary claimed that the attack was perpetuated by “two negroes” which led to a citywide hunt for any black men that matched the description given by Mary Sherman. Evans was arrested based on that description but rather than being given a trial, he was dead the next day.