Justice Department Urged to Investigate Marco McMillian’s Murder
The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) is urging the U.S. Department of Justice’s Community Relations Service (CRS) and Civil Rights division to launch an investigation into the murder of Marco McMillian. The NBJC wants the agency to investigate the murder as a potential racially-motivated and/or anti-gay hate crime.
McMillian was a black gay mayoral candidate in Mississippi whose dead body was found beaten and burned along the Delta last week. Although authorities have arrested 22-year-old Lawrence Reed and charged him with McMillian’s death, they have said that the killing was personal, not political.
In a letter to the U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, NBJC Executive Director and CEO Sharon Lettman-Hicks writes:
After speaking extensively with the family, community and anti-violence coalition members like the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), NBJC feels the perpetuation and validation of the “gay panic” defense is irresponsible. The conflicting reports as well as the current racial and anti-LGBT climate in Mississippi is justification enough for a federal investigation.
NBJC is standing firmly with Marco McMillian’s family so that their concerns do not fall on deaf ears. The details of this case just aren’t adding up. Whether on the basis of race or sexual orientation, hate is hate. If there is the possibility that McMillian was murdered because of who he is, that warrants the Department of Justice’s involvement.”
The letter goes on to cite the disturbing uptick in recent Mississippi hate crimes.