During the later half of the 19th century long into the 20th century lynching, became a popular form of capital punishment. Generally this torturous punishment was only reserved for the most vile of criminals, but during this particular time in our history being a specific ethnicity was the crime and lynching was often accompanied by sever beatings, and humiliating taunts issued by a leering crowd.
The vast majority of victims were African Americans. Lynching usually occurred in the South, due to strong prejudice and still prevailing pressures of the post Civil-War Southern Reconstruction. African American became beast of burden to many Caucasian individuals. Whatever tribulation a town had (usually murder) the finger was generally pointed to someone of different ethnicity, even if that person had never committed a crime, for example, Laura Nelson. Laura's only crime was trying to save her son, L.W. The accused would be placed under arrest and while awaiting their trails, they would be ripped from their cells by an angry mob, local justice disapproved of the vigilante actions but did little to stop them.
Usually the lynching occurred on a bridge, from a tree, or over a body of water. Many of the vigilantes felt that they were performing the work of God and use a lot of symbolism in their murders. Bridges symbolized the gateway to heaven, tree represented to wooden crucifix that Jesus was placed upon, and bodies of water symbolized a baptism. Even after death the torture doesn't cease, the corpse was either burnt (to purify the damned soul of the victims), or mutilated. The mutilation probably occurred because even after death the mob member feared the corpse, so they mutilated and mock the corpse to remove themselves from their fear.
African American took most of the brunt of these "witch hunts" but they were not the only ones to hang from a noose. In Tampa Florida Castenego Ficarrota and Angelo Albano were two Italian immigrants who worked in a factory.