Tuesday, March 5, 2013

It Seems That Mississippi Never Changes

Marco McMillan the openly gay candidate for mayor of Clarksdale, Mississippi was murdered last week, and there is a growing dispute between his family and state authorities over the circumstances of his death.  The family claims that his death was a brutal hate crime, that he was stripped naked, beaten, set on fire, and his body dumped in the woods near a river.  State authorities refuse to pursue the murder as a hate crime and seem to be going out of their way to downplay the circumstances of his death, despite the fact that he was openly gay, his car was stolen, and his body was found in the woods.

Mississippi is a notoriously gay hostile state.  The state would have a lot of interest in suppressing details and motivation for what appears to be a lurid and potentially sensational crime, perhaps a political assassination as well as a hate crime.  McMillan's family also has their motivations, knowing about their son's sexuality and about the very hostile environment in which he proposed to run for office.

I suppose it is possible that this was ordinary crime, but I think it is much more likely that such a man with so high and controversial a public profile would be murdered over his identity.  I'm not confident that the state will do the right thing here, not without having to be goaded by bad publicity, lawsuits, and federal investigations.

Shades of the 1964 murders of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner.

I don't need to remind people who read here regularly that gays and lesbians around the world are murdered all the time.  Violence and the threat of violence is still a fact of life that every LGBT has to live with despite all the progress that has been made.

This is why I find it so galling when our enemies start screaming that they are the real victims whenever they get called out on their shit.


A suspect has been arrested and charged, 22 year old Lawrence Reed.  The suspect plans to use the old and once reliable "gay panic" defense.  That may work in Mississippi which has no hate crimes law.  There is a possibility that Reed could face federal charges.


Sure enough, the Feds are getting involved.  The FBI is opening an investigation.


Gerrit said...

Hi Doug,

when I read this, before the update, I was willing to bet that the murderer would not be found. So...
Maybe something has changed in Mississippi?

Just wondering...


Counterlight said...

I'll wait and see how the trial goes. If the defendant uses the "gay panic" defense, and the jury lets him off or reduces the charge, then Mississippi hasn't changed all that much.