Standing in Solidarity with Mississippi Community Around Marco McMillian Homicide
WASHINGTON, D.C. – February 28, 2013 – Yesterday, the body of Marco McMillian, an openly gay Black mayoral candidate, was found on the Mississippi River levee. The 34-year-old was running for mayor of Clarksdale, Mississippi, a town of about 17,800 people. Police have ruled his case a homicide but details around the cause of death are still unfolding. NBJC joins the Clarksdale community, and our nation as a whole, in mourning the loss of the avid public servant.
Authorities had been looking for McMillian since a man crashed the candidate's car into another vehicle on Tuesday. McMillian was not in the car. His body was later found in the woods near the Mississippi-Yazoo levee, about 30 miles away from a roadway where McMillian's car crashed while being driven by another person. The police now have that suspect, Lawrence Reed, 22, in custody.
“The loss of Marco is a huge one,” says Dr. Ravi K. Perry, assistant professor of political science at Mississippi State University, friend of McMillian and adviser to his campaign. “He was the most viable LGBT candidate for public office in the history of politics in the state of Mississippi and he firmly believed in politics as a vehicle to help those less fortunate. We need more 'Marcos' to boldly stand up for what they believe and to serve the greater good. His untimely death is tragic and also a reminder that we need to better engage and equip openly gay candidates of color running for office.”
Research shows that violence against LGBT people is on the rise, with people of color and transgender women as the most likely targets. Of the victims murdered in 2010, 70 percent were people of color. And those are just the cases we know about. Other findings indicate that identifying as gay or offenders perceiving individuals to be gay may increase hate violence murder risk.
“Our brother Marco McMillian lived openly and authentically in his truth,” states Sharon Lettman-Hicks, NBJC Executive Director and CEO. “NBJC will continue to closely monitor the story and update our constituents as details develop. His life and his work will not be in vain.”
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The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) is a civil rights organization dedicated to empowering Black lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. NBJC’s mission is to end racism and homophobia.