Three Mississippi men sentenced for hate crimes

(Next Media Online)- Three men were sentenced to federal prison on Tuesday for the 2011 hate-crime murder of 47-year-old James Craig Anderson. One of the defendants, Deryl Dedmon, 22, was given the longest sentence of 50 years in prison for running over Anderson with his pickup truck and fatally wounding him.

The three men were part of a larger group of young, white men who deliberately ventured into Jackson, Mississippi with the intention of harassing Blacks. The group often came to Jackson to assault Blacks with beer bottles and sling shots, and the men targeted homeless and intoxicated Blacks because they were less likely to report the incidents to the police.

On June 26, 2011, the men started their night partying in the town of Puckett, Mississippi. They later drove 16 miles from Puckett to Jackson in Dedmon’s green 1998 Ford F-240 pickup truck and another man’s white Jeep Cherokee with the goal of getting more alcohol. During their night out, the men found Anderson in the parking lot of a Metro Inn. They claimed they thought Anderson was trying to steal a car so they confronted him, although the car was in fact Anderson’s and he had simply lost his keys. The men robbed and assaulted Anderson. One witness reports that one of the teenagers yelled, “white power,” as they returned to their vehicles after the assault. As Anderson scrambled to get up, Dedmon ran over Anderson with his pickup truck before fleeing the scene.

The three men who were sentenced on Tuesday are among the first defendants to be prosecuted under a federal hate-crime statute U.S. President Barack Obama signed in 2009. The seven other defendants are awaiting their sentences.

SOURCES: New York Times, Huffington Post, CNN, Reuters