Federal authorities are looking into whether a Mississippi hit-and-run was a hate crime after two White teenagers in the state are charged with murder of a Black autoworker.
“This was a racially motivated murder, committed because the victim was Black,” Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith told CNN. “We want to prosecute and bring justice in this case to the fullest extent of the law.”
Deborah Madden, an FBI spokeswoman, confirmed to Reuters that the agency is investigating the incident as a possible hate crime.
According to reports, 49-year-old James Craig Anderson was returning to his car in the early morning hours of June 26 when he was approached by eight White teens. An argument ensued. Anderson was beaten and then, according to accounts aired by CNN, a White male and two females got in a green Ford F-250 pickup truck and ran Anderson over.
A surveillance camera captured the scene, showing Anderson being run over by a pickup truck. He died of his injuries.
Deryl Dedmon Jr. and John Aaron Rice have been charged in connection with Anderson’s death. Dedmon is charged with murder while Rice faces assault charges. Smith told CNN he wants to seek murder and hate crimes indictments for both men.
The video of the incident made the rounds on the internet and the resulting outrage prompted a march in Jackson, Miss.
“There is a lot of general appall over what took place here,” said Ronnie C. Crudup Sr., bishop of New Horizons Church in Jackson, told the Los Angeles Times. “We wanted to get well-minded people, both Black and White, together to do something to support this family and this country. This is not indicative of where Mississippi is today.”