There are new developments in the horrific case of James Craig Anderson, the Black gay Mississippi man killed in a racially motivated beating and hit-and-run murder in Jackson.
A total of four young white Mississippi men have now pleaded guilty to federal hate crime charges for a series of racially motivated attacks against African-Americans that culminated in the June 2011 murder, reports the Associated Press and the Clarion Ledger. A fifth men has pleaded guilty to being part of the group but was not involved in the fatal attack.
William Montgomery pleaded guilty in the death of Anderson, and Jonathan Gaskamp admitted to two federal hate crime charges in attacks on other blacks in Jackson.
Prosecutors said starting about April 1, 2011, the group of white young men and women would drive from the majority-white suburbs of Rankin County into the majority-black capital city of Jackson, seeking black people to verbally harass and physically assault, and that they would later boast about the attacks. They would target people who appeared to be homeless or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, believing that such victims would be less likely to fight back or to report attacks to police.
Twenty-year-old Deryl Dedmon pleaded guilty to capital murder and state/federal hate crime charges in March. Dedmon was driving the pickup truck on June 26 2011. Surveillance video shows two carloads of teenagers driving into the parking lot of a Jackson motel. Several approached Anderson, who was beaten and robbed. The video also shows Anderson being struck by a truck. Witnesses report one teenager yelled "white power" and the driver of the pickup shouted the n-word.
"Prosecutors wouldn’t say whether additional people could be charged," reports the Clarion Ledger.
[The] guilty pleas come nine months after Deryl Dedmon, Dylan Wade Butler and John Aaron Rice pleaded guilty in March to federal hate crime charges, culminating in the [death] of Anderson. All five are in custody and awaiting sentencing on the federal charges. Conspiracy carries a maximum penalty of five years; hate crime a maximum of 10 years. Anderson’s sister Barbara Anderson-Young ... has advocated that all seven who came to Jackson the morning her brother was killed should face justice.
The 48-year-old Anderson had a long-term male partner of almost two decades and they were raising a son together.
Anderson's family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in September 2011 against the seven white teenagers that police say were involved in the gruesome crime. Anderson's long-term partner is prevented by Mississippi law and the Defense of Marriage Act from joining the legal action. Anderson's partner was also prevented by Mississippi law from making end of life decisions. See our piece for EBONY: "Why Has Black Media Ignored the Sexuality of FAMU Hazing Victim Robert Champion?"
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