Family of 1 of 2 Black Men Found Hanging From Tree in California Says His Death Was Suicide

Candles at memorial for Malcolm Harsch, whose body was found hanging from a branch.
Memorial at the site where Malcolm Harsch's body was found.Getty

Malcolm Harsch was one of two Black men found hanged from trees in Southern California.

The family of Malcolm Harsch, one of two Black men found hanging from California trees, say they now believe his death was a suicide. The 38-year-old man's body was found May 31, near a homeless camp where he had been staying in Victorville.

Ten days later, and 50 miles away, the body of 24-year-old Robert Fuller was found hanging from a tree in Palmdale. Fuller's family is still waiting for the results of an investigation into his death.

A Harsch family spokesman, Najee Ali, said relatives wanted an official explanation for his death, after police initially classified it a suicide. Ali, a community activist, led protests following the deaths of Harsch and Fuller.

The discovery of two Black hanged men ignited demonstrations and allegations of lynching as protesters across the country took to the streets to protest the police killing of George Floyd, a Black man in Minneapolis.

“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,” said Ali, who said police investigated only after media reports and protesters highlighted Harsch's death.

“The stress from being homeless, the lack of hope and the despair led him to choose to, unfortunately, end his life,” Ali said Saturday.

Detectives found surveillance video from an abandoned building near the site where Harsch's body was discovered and shared that footage with his relatives, authorities said.

"Although there remains no sign of foul play, the forensic pathologist is waiting for toxicology results before assigning the cause and manner of death,” said John McMahon, the sheriff-coroner of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, in a statement Friday.