Target: James Comey, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
Goal: Seek justice for teen shot in what may qualify as a federal hate crime.
Earlier this week in West Virginia, a black teenager was reportedly gunned down by a 62-year-old white man. The victim, 15-year-old James Means, was taken to a hospital where he later died from the gunshot wounds. William Pulliam, the alleged assailant, has been charged with first degree murder, and authorities are determining if the killing could be classified as a federal hate crime. Pulliam, unrepentant, said of the killing: “The way I look at it, that’s another piece of trash off the street.”
Evidently, the incident began when Means and Pulliam bumped into each other outside a dollar store. A verbal argument ensued, but Pulliam went into the store while Means continued on to a friend’s porch nearby. When Pulliam came out, the argument resumed, and when Means got up to confront Pulliam he was shot twice in the abdomen. Pulliam was described by Means’s friend as a “read bad guy” who commonly used racial slurs. Moreover, Pulliam was not able to legally own a gun, due to a previous domestic violence conviction.
Commenters on Twitter have cited this incident as further evidence that black lives do not matter to some, and have been historically undervalued in our society. One Twitter user said: “So a white man shot and killed a 15-year-old Black boy for bumping into him in the street. Quick — was that 1948 or yesterday?” James Means deserves justice, and classifying this act as a hate crime would demonstrate that racially targeted violence of this nature cannot be tolerated. Means’s family, who remember him as a boy who “could put a smile on anybody’s face,” has asked the community to practice forgiveness, trusting that the authorities will seek appropriate justice. Sign the petition to help ensure that they do — and out of respect to Means’s family, please keep any and all comments gracious, and focus on a way forward rather than dwelling on anger.
Dear Mr. Comey,
I am writing with regards to the recent shooting in West Virginia, in which a black teenager was reportedly killed by a 62-year-old white male. I believe that this type of violence, with a complete lack of remorse, demonstrates a devaluing of black lives that cannot be tolerated. The act should be classified as a hate crime.
Means’s family has stated that they trust the authorities to achieve justice for their lost loved one. His mother, Nafia Adkins, commented: “We know that justice is going to succeed in this matter. We are not going to put it in our hands. We are going to let the law put it in their hands.” I understand that the legal system must run its course, and that the review is still in early stages — I do hope, however, that you will treat this case with careful consideration. Classifying the murder as a hate crime, and prosecuting it as such, would be a meaningful step in recognizing the violence of racism, and would send a clear message that this is not to be taken lightly. Please do everything in your power to seek justice for James Means.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Joseph H. Diss Debar