ATLANTA — The black man whose hanging death at Piedmont Park sparked national outrage was a gay Midtown Atlanta resident who committed suicide, according to his own ominous final Facebook postings in which he stated “I’m done with this life” after being gay-shamed by his own family.
He has been identified as 22-year-old Midtown Atlanta resident born Michael George Smith Jr. Soon after his name was released to the public, friends quickly identified him as the man who also wrote on social media under the alias “London Jermaine.”
On Thursday, July 7, 2016, Smith, aka London Jermaine, wrote his final Facebook post: “I see y’all in the next Life… Deadass Father forgive me”
Piedmont Park security officer Charles Butler discovered Smith’s body hanging from a tree near the Charles Allen Drive entrance of Atlanta’s popular Piedmont Park at about 4:30 a.m. Smith had reportedly tied a white rope to a thick branch of a tree and then around his neck and hanged himself near the “Free Nelson Mandela” monument. Officers said he was well dressed and clean cut, according to Projectq.us.
According to his Instagram profile and postings, he said he was an actor, model and entrepreneur who was a computer science student at the Georgia Institute of Technology, one of the top schools in the country. But, according to the publcication, Georgia Tech officials said there was no one by that name who attended the school.
Smith also on Facebook, via the name London James, on June 29 that his nationality was “British, Jamaican, American” and bragged about his glamorous life he was living.
Born in Hackensack, N.J., Smith was gay-shamed by “Jeremiah” in a text message which he shared with his Facebook followers.
“God doesn’t born gay people. You make yourself gay.”
Smith also posted this message prior to his passing:
But it was his chilling message that he wrote about his mother that lead many to believe prompted him to take his own life:
“My mother is teaching my siblings to dispise Gays.. I’m done with Life. I’m Hurt To The Core.”
That the hanging took place during the same week of sparked national protest of the police killings of black men in Baton Rouge, La., and suburban Minneapolis, rumors spread like wildfire that Smith was a victim of a hate crime, possibly committed by the Ku Klux Klan. Mayor Kasim Reed was forced to host a press conference to ensure the public that there was no cover-up, that there was no evidence of foul play or murder at that time, and that the case was being handled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.