Silas Parmore's arrest
While the Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill languished in a Senate filibuster, the terrors of lynching continued to be a prominent theme and topic of discussion at New Brunswick NAACP meetings. Then on December 7, 1923, members found themselves thrown directly into the fight against lynching, when Silas Parmore was arrested under the elevated Pennsylvania Railroad Tracks on French Street.
Fleeing Iron City, Georgia
Parmore was a 38-year-old black man and father of nine who lived on the outskirts of Iron City, Georgia. One evening in May 1923, Parmore was out with friends when the automobile he was driving was stopped by several white men, including Jeff Williams, the city’s Chief of Police. Parmore was searched and found to have a flask of whiskey on him, a crime under Prohibition. According to Parmore, he fled into the woods to evade arrest without any further incident. But the following morning, Williams was discovered dead from a gunshot wound, and a warrant was issued for Parmore’s arrest.
Parmore’s wife, Estelle, recalled that shortly thereafter, a group of white men came to her home and, unable to find her husband, announced, “We have a barrel of oil and a match waiting for him.” Several days later, when Parmore finally returned home, the couple and their 16-old son Serai fled North, ultimately settling in a New Brunswick boarding house on Church Street and finding work as day laborers.
After several months, the New Brunswick police appear to have been tipped off by an associate of Parmore, and he was immediately arrested and placed in the Middlesex County Jail. The police also arrested Serai on the grounds that he was a material witness in his father’s case. Parmore admitted he was wanted for murder but denied committing the crime. He told his jailers that, were he to return to Georgia, he was certain he would be lynched.