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Sun, 06.26.2011

Another Hate Crime Murder Ocurrs in Mississippi

Deryl Dedmon

*On this date in 2011, a group of white teenagers killed a Black man in Jackson, Mississippi.

49-year-old James Craig Anderson was run over by a vehicle in the parking lot of a Jackson hotel. Investigators said two of the teens attacked Anderson before one of them climbed into a green Ford F-250 and ran the man down near the hotel on Ellis Avenue.  Deryl Dedmon, 19, was charged with capital murder and robbery in Anderson's death.  Authorities say Dedmon ran over Anderson and later bragged about it. John Aaron Rice was charged with assault. Police say he attacked Anderson before he was run over. Dedmon appeared briefly in a Hinds County court for a preliminary hearing on the criminal charges. Still, the hearing was postponed until Sept. 26, 2011. Heavy security was in court with nearly a dozen sheriff's deputies, some wearing bulletproof vests.

The lawyers for the teens say their clients were not involved in a racially motivated attack. The five other people named as defendants in the lawsuit include two teenage girls who allegedly were in the truck with Dedmon when Anderson was run down. During a news conference, Winston Thompson, an attorney for Anderson's relatives, said the seven teens acted in a "joint venture" to harm a black person. "We allege that they acted as a group, as one," Thompson said. The lawsuit sought monetary damages, but Thompson wants to ensure all the facts come out.  The Southern Poverty Law Center was assisting Thompson with the lawsuit. The lawsuit said Rice, Dedmon, and two others approached Anderson in the parking lot and surrounded him. It says Rice and Dedmon attacked him "with the cooperation and encouragement" of the others.  The lawsuit said the three people who stayed in the vehicles during the attack acted as lookouts.

The lawsuit also said one of the teens screamed "white power" during the assault. The hotel's security camera captured video of Anderson being run over. The surveillance video, obtained by The Associated Press and other media, shows a white Jeep Cherokee in which Rice was allegedly a passenger leaving a hotel parking lot at 5:05 a.m. Less than 20 seconds later, a Ford truck backs up and lunges forward. Anderson's shirt is illuminated in the headlights before disappearing under the vehicle next to the curb. Dedmon's attorney has said it was an accident. Rice's lawyer said Rice was actually trying to help Anderson, who had locked his keys in his car before Dedmon arrived. Rice's lawyer, Samuel Martin, has also suggested during court hearings that the teens were on a beer run that morning, not looking for anyone to harass or assault.

Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith said a grand jury could hear evidence against all the teens. The FBI is investigating the case, too.  In 2015, U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves sentenced Deryl Paul Dedmon to 50 years, John Aaron Rice to 18 1/2 years, and Dylan Wade Butler to seven.

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