The limp, ravaged corpse of a young African American male, with clothes shredded from flight and bullets, is propped as a safari trophy for the posse, who pose in hunting costumes and brandish weapons.
Marauding posses of casually deputized or undeputized men accounted for a significant number of lynch mobs. Often, without taking the trouble to properly identify their victims, they acted with dispatch, killing their prey on sight. Torture was not characteristic.
One Georgia police investigator who witnessed a posse-lynching in the 1950s described it this way: "An African American man had assaulted a police officer and fled. Word, from an informant, indicated he was hiding in a nearby residence. Two branches of the state and one local law enforcement agency surrounded the house. An officer banged on the front door. A black male exited the back door and ran towards an adjacent field. The sheriff shot and the man fell dead. The officers gathered about the corpse and kicked the body over which was still clutching a bottle of moonshine whiskey. The sheriff lamented, 'Wrong Nigger.'" No investigation of this lynching ensued.
Congressman John Lewis of Georgia documented the hunting-party atmosphere of posses in his book Walking with the Wind. He relates that the "citizen posses" (squads of local white men deputized by Sheriff Jim Clark in Selma, Alabama, during the civil rights movement of the 1960s) liked to refer to themselves as "squirrel shooters."
James Weldon Johnson, in the early 1900s, described his encounter with a posse of ten militiamen with orders to capture "a Negro accompanying a white woman" in a Jacksonville, Florida, park. Unknown to the soldiers, Johnson's companion was a woman of African American descent with fair skin. The soldiers beat him and tore his clothes with cries of, "Kill the damned nigger! Kill the black son of a bitch!" Johnson states that if he had turned his back, lowered his eyes, or taken one step in retreat, he would have been a dead man.