New Orleans mayor to apologize to Italian-Americans for 1891 lynchings

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said she will apologize to Italian-Americans for the 1891 lynchings of 11 Italian immigrants, widely considered to be the deadliest in U.S. history.

Cantrell said she plans to issue a formal apology April 12 for the violence that took place in 1891 after a police chief was thought to have been murdered by Italian immigrants, according to NOLA.com.

Eleven Italian immigrants lost their lives in violent lynchings following acquittals in police Commissioner David Hennessy’s murder case.

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“Our office has worked with the Italian-American community on this issue and will be releasing a proclamation,” spokesman for the mayor’s office Joseph Caruso told the local news outlet.

The apology will reportedly be issued at New Orleans’s American Italian Cultural Center.

Michael Santo of the Order Sons and Daughters of Italy said the deadly event led Italy to close its embassy in the U.S., which then prompted the United States to do the same to its embassy in Italy, adding to already frosty relations between the two countries.

“This has been a longstanding wound,” Santo said.

Of the 11 killed in March of 1891, eight were U.S. citizens and three were Italians.

All 11 were involved in the trial surrounding Hennessy’s murder, with three having been acquitted, while the trials for three others resulted in a hung jury. Five were yet to face trial.

The lynchings occurred after the acquittals when jailers opened cell doors, releasing the inmates to an angry mob awaiting them.

The following year, the U.S. government paid $25,000 in reparations to the families of the victims, according to the local news outlet.