The National Black Justice Coalition has begun an online petition drive (www.change.org/petitions/justice-for-robert-champion-jr) urging the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights to investigate whether the death of a Florida A&M University student was actually a hazing accident, the result of retaliation because of his opposition to hazing, or an anti-gay hate crime.
The parents of Robert Champion Jr., told “CBS This Morning” Jan. 10 that their son may have been targeted because he was gay and vocally opposed to hazing.
“There’s no way around it. It was wrong,” Pam Champion said.
According to “Journal-isms,” an online column written by veteran journalist Richard Prince, Champion family lawyer Chris Chestnut told the network that the family had “spoken to over 10 potential witnesses. Some of them say Champion was singled out because of his sexual orientation and opposition to hazing.”
The Champions also have filed suit against FAMU—which has since named a scholarship in Champion’s memory—as well as Fabulous Coach Lines, the company that provided the charter bus where the attack against the marching band drum major occurred Nov. 19, following the Florida Classic football game in Orlando, Fla.
“I’m waiting on a solution,” Pam Champion told CBS. “Our goal is not to shut down any school. Our goal is not to stop the music. Our goal is to stop the hazing.”