More developments in the horrific case of James Craig Anderson, the Black Mississippi man killed in an alleged racially motivated hit-and-run murder.
Anderson's family filed a wrongful-death lawsuit on Tuesday against the group of white teenagers that police say is responsible. Anderson had a long-term male partner of almost two decades and they were raising a daughter. Anderson's long-term partner cannot join the legal action, reports the New York Times.
The lawsuit, filed in Hinds County Circuit Court in Jackson, depicts the death of James C. Anderson as a racially motivated attack and outlines an evening of drinking that culminated with a caravan of teenagers from a largely white suburban county driving 16 miles to Jackson intent on harassing African-Americans.
"We want to send a message to people who want to use race as a reason to target someone," said Morris Dees of the Southern Poverty Law Center, who joined Winston Thompson III, the family’s lawyer, in filing the suit. "It appears this group went out to target a black person."
The suit did not specify an amount for damages, but it included accusations of negligence as a way to tap into the homeowner’s insurance policies of some of the families of the young people involved, Mr. Dees said.
The lawsuit makes public for the first time the names of all seven people who had piled into the two vehicles that night, charging that while some were directly responsible for assaulting and killing Mr. Anderson, others were negligent because they acted as lookouts and did not try to help Mr. Anderson.
James Bradfield, Mr. Anderson’s partner of 17 years, is not a plaintiff. Under Mississippi law, same-sex partners have no claim in civil actions like this, Mr. Dees said. There was no indication that Mr. Anderson’s sexual orientation was a factor in the crime.
The 48-year-old auto plant worker died on the morning of June 26 in a motel parking lot. Surveillance video shows two carloads of teenagers driving into the parking lot. Several approached Anderson, who was beaten and robbed. The video shows Anderson being struck by a truck. Witnesses report one teenager yelled "white power" and the driver of the pickup shouted the n-word.
Two of the seven defendants in the suit have been charged. Nineteen-year-old Daryl Dedmon, who was driving the pickup, faces capital murder charges and is being held without bond. The driver of the second car was charged with assault and has been released on bond. Prosecutors say they will try to charge the other teens before a grand jury later this month. The FBI is also involved in the case.
The slain man's partner of almost two decades is forced to sit on the sidelines—courtesy of the Defense of Marriage Act and the lack of statewide protections for LGBTs and same-sex couples in Mississippi. Yet another example of Mississippi justice.
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