In a not too surprising twist in the death of Mississippi Mayoral Candidate Marco McMillian, it appears that the man charged with his murder, Lawrence Reed, is setting up to make a “gay panic” defense claiming that he and McMillian were in an intimate relationship during the two weeks that the two men knew each other, and that Reed, who sees himself as straight, snapped as a result of sexual advances made by McMillian.
Despite the fact that McMillian appears to have been severely beaten and then burned prior to his death, Mississippi police have also already ruled that the murder was not a hate crime. None of this is surprising given Mississppi’s long history of squashing hate crimes.
Doctor Ravi K. Perry, a friend of McMillian and an advisor on his campaign, stated “Marco’s death is a tragedy. He was a champion for justice and now he needs justice. State hate crime law in Mississippi does not include sexual orientation. To date, it appears his accused will not be charged with a hate crime. This tragedy brings to light the inequitable protections for LGBT persons throughout various states, where literally you can cross states lines and lose rights. We need to ensure Marco’s life and legacy is given the same attention he gave so many others’ lives.”
The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs notes that there has been a distinct increase in the number of anti-gay attacks occurring in the United States of late. Chai Jindasurat, the NCAVP coordinator in New York City, stated “Our thoughts and condolences go out to McMillian’s surviving love ones. This tragedy is a reminder that violence within and against LGBTQH communities remains pervasive and deadly, and there is still much work to be done to create safety for all in our communities.”
The NCAVP, the National Black Justice Coalition, others are seeking to help the family and the community during the tragedy. Sharon Lettman-Hicks, the Executive Director and CEO of NBJC stated “We are working closely with the family and will be reaching out to the Department of Justice for a proper investigation that does not prematurely rule out McMillian’s death as a racially-motivated or anti-gay hate crime. NBJC will be launching a national call to action urging that the rightful government entities are fully involved.”
They are not the only ones who are moving for the Justice Department to investigate given the track record of the Mississippi police.