Hundreds Remember Mississippi Hate Crime Victim James Anderson

The crime has shocked the nation and put local officials in the hot seat.

By Jorge Rivas Aug 15, 2011

More than 500 people marched in Jackson, Mississippi on Sunday to call attention to the murder of 49-year-old African-American James Craig Anderson in what authorities say was a racially motivated hate crime.

Starting at a nearby church, the march included clergymen, elected officials and supporters of all races who sang "We Shall Overcome" as they marched to the site of Anderson’s murder, the LA Times reported.

Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith says seven teenagers left a party together with the intention of finding a black victim to assault. Upon exiting the highway Anderson was the first black man the group saw and they began to attack him in a motel parking lot. In the end, Deryl Dedmon, 18, allegedly ran over Anderson and is being charged with murder.

"This was a crime of hate," Smith told CNN last week. "Dedmon murdered this man because he was black."

The incident happened on June 26* but it didn’t make national headlines until last week when CNN acquired footage of the incident from motel security cameras that were in the parking lot.

"We didn’t know the intensity of the crime, and it wasn’t until the release of the video that we really understood the depth of it," Cassandra Welchlin, who attended the vigil told local news in Jackson.

"There is a lot of general appall over what took place here," Ronnie C. Crudup Sr., bishop of New Horizons Church near the motel told the LA Times. "We wanted to get well-minded people, both black and white, together to do something to support this family and this country. This is not indicative of where Mississippi is today."

Two 18-year-olds have been charged in the case. Deryl Dedmon, the alleged driver of the green pickup that is seen in the video running over Anderson is charged with murder and remains jailed; bond was set at $800,000. John A. Rice, who prosecutors say is also seen assaulting Anderson was originally charged with murder but now faces a charge of simple assault. He was freed on $5,000 bail.

"If we don’t tell what is right to our children, someone else will tell their version of the truth," Crudup said. "I challenge everyone to talk to somebody different every day for the rest of this month about this. We must not forget."

*A previous version of this post incorrectly reported the date of the alleged attack.