Monday, August 8, 2011

Hunting For Negroes in Mississippi

Deryl Dedmon, Jr., right, could face two life sentences in connection with the killing. John Aaron Rice, left, has been charged with simple assault.

From all accounts, they went looking for a black man to kill. On our day of worship, Sunday, two carloads of white teenagers drove to Jackson, Mississippi to make a statement. It all ended with the brutal death of James Craig Anderson, a 49-year-old auto plant worker.

Anderson was standing in the parking lot at a hotel near his car when a gang of teens allegedly beat him repeatedly while yelling “Nigger” and “White Power!”, according to those who witnessed the act. Robert Shuler Smith, Hinds County district attorney, says the gang climbed into their Ford F250 green pickup truck, floored the gas, and drove over Anderson, killing him.

Smith says the murder was racially motivated. What the criminals didn’t know was that the hotel surveillance camera captured the murder on videotape. Officials say the gang was led by 18-year-old Deryl Dedmon, Jr., of Brandon, Mississippi.

"This was a crime of hate. Dedmon murdered this man because he was black," Smith told CNN. CNN released the footage of the surveillance tape. "The evidence will show that." CNN asked Smith if he thought the intent was to actually hurt and kill a black person, Smith responded: "No doubt about it. They were going out to look for a black victim to assault, and in this case, even kill."

As the teens were partying and drinking miles away from Jackson that night, Dedmon told friends they should leave, saying "let's go fuck with some niggers," according to police accounts. Then, the hoodlums climbed into Dedmon's green truck and a white SUV Cherokee, and drove 16 miles to the western edge of Jackson, a predominantly black area.

"This is the first business that you get to coming off the highway and so that was the first person that was out here and vulnerable," says Smith.

The videotape obtained by CNN shows the teens pulling into the parking lot, stopping where Anderson is standing and then going back and forth between their cars and Anderson. Police say this is when the beating took place. After the beating the teens piling in the white SUV left and some jumped into the green truck.

The videotape then shows Anderson staggering toward the truck. The truck rushes ahead, running over Anderson while continuing to speed away from the scene. After the incident, Dedmon was heard boasting and laughing about killing a nigger. “I ran that nigger over,” Dedmon allegedly said to the teens in the white SUV on his cell phone.

Dedmon is thin, weighing only 130 pounds, and short -- at 5 feet. He has been charged with murder and now faces a possible double life sentence. During a bond hearing his attorney told the court he saw nothing to back up the "racial allegations." A second teen, 18-year-old John Aaron Rice, has been charged with simple assault for participating in the beating. What about the thugs in the other vehicle? Why haven’t they been charged, and why is Rice only being charged with simple assault?

Locally, people are outraged. “That one person(s) can brutally, heinously, inhumanely take the life of another, with such unadulterated, hateful premeditation and then celebrate it is unspeakable,” says Cheryl A. Kirk-Duggan, professor of Religion at Shaw University Divinity School. “I have no words. My soul, my being vacillates from nausea to deep wailing, ancient moaning rooted in the Maafa, the Middle passage. My soul simultaneously asks, "How long O Lord, How Long," and "Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachthani!" At this moment too numb to be enraged, my heart aches for James Craig Anderson, for his family and friends. What allows, what serves as a catalyst that gives teenagers permission to do something so horrific in 2011?”

Yes, this is a question for people of faith to ponder. After all we, those who believe in the worth of every life, have done to move past the words and ways of separation. After all that has been done to lift the youth of this generation past the idiotic decisions that frustrated the dream for a better world. After all of that, we have to face this-again.

“It becomes apparent that even in 2011 black life has no value in the “America melting pot,” because we can be murdered by white teens for sport,” says James Blackwell, a 21-year-old graduate student majoring in history. “We live in a nation as the hunted.”

So true James, so true. Time to sing an old song-“We shall overcome, someday.”

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