JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Authorities call it a hate crime by two white teens against a middle-aged black man, “murder by physically assaulting and purposefully using a 1998 Ford F-250 to run over James Craig Anderson.”
Defense lawyers insist the incident had nothing to do with race. One of the teen’s attorneys said the group was on a beer run that morning, not out looking for a black man to assault, as prosecutors claim.
Regardless of whether race had anything to do with the killing, that’s how it’s being seen by many who live far away from Mississippi’s capital. Stoked in part by security camera footage showing Anderson being run over, people across the country have begun to sound off on social media pages created for and against the defendants, filling them with shrill, often hateful comments.
Pages have been set up to solicit prayers for the victim and one of the suspects, but the posts have become more heated since the surveillance video was made public. Another Web page calls for the executions of Deryl Dedmon and John Aaron Rice, who were 18 when the 49-year-old Anderson was run down on a Jackson street just before dawn on June 26.
Both were both initially charged with murder, though the charge against Rice was reduced to simple assault after a detective testified Rice left the scene in a separate vehicle before Anderson was run down.
The ACLU of Mississippi said it is monit