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About this collection

David C. Hennessy (1858 – October 16, 1890) was appointed 1889, chief of police by mayor Joseph Shakespeare.  Hennessy was tasked with consolidating and reforming the police force.  This included taking action against groups such as the Mafia.

On the night of October 15, 1890, a group of unknown men shot Hennessy as he walked down Basin Street to his home on Girod Street.  Hennessey died the next day of his wounds.

Suspicion turned to the Italian community and in the end police arrested nineteen suspects. 

Eventually nine men were tried beginning in mid-February 1891.  Despite popular opinion which swayed in favor of the men’s guilt, a lawyer was able to establish alibis for all of the men on trial.  A jury acquitted six of the men and deadlocked on the remaining three.

The numerous acquittals and mistrials agitated the city locals, and a mob formed outside the prison the day after the men were acquitted.  The mob gained access to the prison and 11 of the 19 men who had been indicted for Hennessy's murder were lynched. The March 14, 1891 lynchings were the largest known mass lynching in U.S. history.

David C. Hennessy is buried in Metairie Cemetery. 

 
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