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Firefighter allegedly targeted with noose sues ex-official

July 2, 2015

A black Marion firefighter whose wife belongs to the family of a lynching victim has filed a federal lawsuit against an assistant fire chief who allegedly tied a rope into a noose.

The Indianapolis Star reports 45-year-old Mikel Neal says he suffered serious and permanent emotional injuries as a result of Rick Backs’ making the noose during a Feb. 13 knot-tying session.

Neal and his wife, RaChelle Fears-Neal, called for Backs’ dismissal. However, Fire Chief Paul David only demoted Backs because of a “lack of disciplinary history and his avowed statement that it was not racially motivated.”

Rachelle Fears-Neal is a cousin to Abram Smith, one of two black men lynched in Marion in August 1930. They were accused of killing a white man and raping his girlfriend.

Telephone and email messages left for Backs were not immediately returned.

The case in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana is Neal et al. v. Backs, 1:15-cv-00168.

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