David Alexander

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David Alexander was a black man killed by a lynch-mob on April 5, 1909, after he allegedly confessed to killing policeman J. D. Carter.[1] Unlike the lynching of Leander Shaw the previous summer, this lynching apparently had little popular support and was in fact sharply denounced by some citizens, including the Rabbi Schwartz of Temple Beth-El.[2]

At the time of his death, Alexander was 45 years old, "slender in build", and 5'8" tall.

Circumstances of his death[edit]

Alexander was allegedly the black man that Pensacola police officer J. D. Carter was attempting to arrest in the early morning hours of April 4, 1909. After making the arrest, the man fatally stabbed Carter and escaped. Later in the day on April 4, Alexander was arrested for Carter's murder. He initially denied that he had killed Carter or that he had been the man Carter was attempting to arrest. However, he was taken to the city jail, and later newspaper reports indicate that Carter allegedly confessed to the murder in the presence of police captain Hall and a jail guard. A coroner's jury quickly ruled that Carter had been killed by Alexander.

Just over 24 hours after the murder, near 4:00 AM on April 5, a white mob gained access to the jail, removed Alexander, and lynched him in Plaza Ferdinand VII. Sources dispute whether the men overpowered jail guards or the guards willingly surrendered Alexander.

The Pensacola Journal reported that the guards were overpowered:

Overpowering Desk Sergeant M. J. Murphy and binding Turnkey Chas. Simpson with a rope, an organized and masked mob of about fifty men took Dave Alexander, colored, confessed murderer of Police Office R. J. Carter [sic], from the city jail at 4 o'clock yesterday morning and hanged him to the cross-arm of an electric light pole in the plaza, just north of the Chipley monument, completing the work of lynching him by firing a fusillade of shots at him, fifteen of them entering the body.

—"Dave Alexander Taken From City Jail by Mob and Hanged." Pensacola Journal, April 6, 1909.

However, the next day's Journal reported that John Magnus, another prisoner in the jail, claimed that the mob members were not masked, and that the jail guards surrendered Alexander willingly.

Later in April, William Thompson was arrested and charged with Alexander's murder.


  1. Forgotten Heroes: Police Officers Killed in Early Florida, 1840-1925. William Wilbanks (1998)
  2. Emergence of a City in the Modern South: Pensacola 1900-1945. James R. McGovern (1976).