St. Augustine commissioners approve lynching marker concept
By Sheldon Gardner
Posted at 6:34 PM
St. Augustine Record
St. Augustine commissioners unanimously approved a plan to place a marker in the Plaza de la Constitucion that will describe the lynching of Isaac Barrett in 1897.
Barrett was accused of severely beating the man he worked for and the man’s family, and two people died. He was captured and lynched by a mob before he could get a hearing before a judge, The New York Times reported.
Gayle Phillips, director of the Lincolnville Museum and Cultural Center, and others sought the Commission’s approval on Monday to put a marker in the Plaza.
According to the application materials filed by Phillips, the marker would highlight an era of “vigilante justice which led to the lack of due process for thousands of citizens who were wrongfully accused and subjected to mob rule without as much as a public hearing before a court of law.”
The first marker erected for Barrett in 2018 was stolen shortly after it was put up off State Road 13 near the site of his death.
Mayor Tracy Upchurch said the Plaza is the heart of the community and the right place for the marker.
“This is not about honoring Mr. Barrett,” Upchurch said. “This is about, in some way, using him as the example of remembering his experience. We don’t know anything about him to speak of. He never had an opportunity to defend himself. And from a lawyer’s point of view, he has been denied due process, and that is elemental to our legal process.”
The city manager will work with Phillips and others to refine the plans, including the marker’s look and specific location in the Plaza, and bring the item back to the Commission for final approval.