In 1892 Wells found a focus for her militancy following a triple lynching in Memphis. After three young black men opened the People's Grocery, a white competitor's resentment triggered a chain of events that led to their murders. Earlier lynchings had angered her, but the deaths of three friends brought the evil close to her. She had believed lynchings happened to innocent people but not to respectable ones. Turning the full force of her powerful pen against lynching, Wells attacked the premise that lynching was a necessary deterrent to black rapists. In May she wrote a Free Speech editorial in which she suggested that many rape charges arose from the discovery of voluntary sexual liaisons of white women with black men. While Wells was away, angry whites closed the newspaper office and ran her partner out of Memphis.
Linda O. McMurry, "Wells-Barnett, Ida Bell," American National Biography Online, February 2000, http://www.anb.org/articles/15/15-00924.html.