Target: Sheriff’s Department of Coahama County, Mississippi
Goal: Launch a full-scale investigation of the death of openly gay mayoral candidate and ensure he was not the victim of a hate crime
The family of a Mississippi man who was brutally murdered is calling on authorities to investigate the possibility that the homicide was committed as a hate crime. The man, 33-year-old Marco McMillian, was an openly gay mayoral candidate in the town of Clarksdale in Coahama County, and was apparently beaten, dragged and set on fire last week. His body was later discovered near the Mississippi River. Although details surrounding the murder are unclear and full autopsy results will not be complete for several more weeks, McMillian’s family believes he was the victim of a hate crime.
Mississippi, arguably the most conservative state in the country, is not necessarily the friendliest place for an openly gay politician like McMillian, who was also black. McMillian’s godfather, Carter Womack, told NBC News that the young candidate “was very concerned about his safety; people had tried to talk him out of the race. The family feels this ought to be investigated a hate crime.”
The family believes McMillian was the victim of a hate crime because of the absolutely decimated way the body was found, namely naked, and with severe bruising and swelling. The Sheriff’s Department in Coahama County, however, says that it will not be doing a hate crime investigation, noting that Mississippi hate-crime law does not extend to sexual orientation. Although they have yet to do so, local and state agencies could attempt to pursue a federal hate crime.
“This was a hate crime. I don’t care if the perpetrator was black, white, or polka dotted,” said Larry Nelson Sr., president and CEO of Victims Group of Violent Crimes in Jackson, Mississippi. Nelson Sr., had apparently had contact with McMillian in the days before his death.
Call on the Sheriff Department of Coahama County to conduct a full investigation into the death of this young man, and determine whether or not he was the victim of a hate crime.
Dear Coahama County Sheriff’s Department,
The tragic death of this bright young man represents a huge loss for his loved ones and for the community he served. As an openly gay mayoral candidate, Marco McMillian showed immense bravery entering the field of public service, and his courage should be honored. Do not let his family wonder for the rest of their lives what happened. Although Mississippi law does not cover sexual orientation in its hate crime laws, the brutal nature of this crime and the risk that came with running for office as a gay man in a socially conservative state indicate that there is a very good chance this murder was in fact a hate crime.
Please do not let McMillian’s death become an example to the people of your state that violence towards those different from us is acceptable. Please conduct a thorough investigation and provide answers to the family of this slain young man, as well as everyone deeply saddened by this loss.
[Your Name Here]
photo credit: Marco McMillian for mayor via Facebook