Walz marks 100th anniversary of Duluth lynchings

DULUTH, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz marked the 100th anniversary of a painful chapter in the state's history on Monday by visiting a memorial in Duluth to three black men lynched by a white mob.

Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson and Isaac McGhie were traveling circus workers accused of raping a white woman, though her doctor later found no evidence of assault.

Walz gestured Monday to the corner where the men were lynched, and said Minnesota’s “inability to deal with that led to what happened down there,” pointing southward toward Minneapolis, where George Floyd died after being arrested by police.

Walz made the same connection on Friday, when he and two other members of the state pardons board granted a posthumous pardon to Max Mason, a fourth circus worker convicted in the case despite what a prosecutor at the time called weak evidence.

Walz is now pressing for major policing reforms in a special session of the state Legislature. The Star Tribune reports that Walz said his goal is to change law in ways that activists say will make a difference in their lives. Walz said the state will “be defined either by the murder of George Floyd or by how we respond to the murder of George Floyd.”

Activists in Duluth raised money to build the memorial in 2003.