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Before Hanging Death, His Girlfriend Made Angry Threat

Malcolm Harsch's family say he did in fact kill himself
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 21, 2020 4:00 PM CDT

(Newser) – A black man whose hanging death roused the ire of activists did indeed die by suicide, the New York Times reports. A family spokesman says video of Malcolm Harsch, 38, taking his life in Victorville, Calif., last month confirmed he hadn't been lynched. Sheriff's officials reinforced that by showing reporters video of Harsch hanging himself from a tree with an electronics cable near the homeless camp where he lived, per the Press-Enterprise. Sgt. Steve Allen told them Harsch took his life after he and his girlfriend angrily broke up and she threatened "to make one of your homeboys my new boyfriend." Harsch is seen in the video throwing donuts at her tent before taking his own life.

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The family spokesman, Najee Ali, reiterated that activists had to pressure the police to investigate. "Due to the fact that he was an African-American homeless man with no family initially, his life and investigation were devalued and put on the back burner," Ali said. "The stress from being homeless, the lack of hope and the despair led him to choose to, unfortunately, end his life." Harsch is one of two black men whose California hanging deaths made headlines and sparked fears of lynchings. Family of the other man, 24-year-old Robert Fuller, say they're still waiting for results into a probe of his death. The Signal reports that dozens of Santa Clarita residents gathered Saturday in Central Park to honor the lives of Harsch and Fuller. (Read more suicide stories.)

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