Mississippi Judge Carlton Reeves Gives Lesson on the History of Race Relations Before Sentencing 3 White Men to Prison for Murder of Black Man

Judge Carlton Reeves (CLEO)
Judge Carlton Reeves (CLEO)

The United States District judge tasked with sentencing the men responsible for murdering James Craig Anderson in Mississippi in 2011 asked them to sit down while he read a lengthy statement about the history of race relations in Mississippi, NPR’s Code Switch blog reports.

On June 26, 2011, Deryl Dedmon, Jr., John Aaron Rice, and Dylan Wade Butler drove into Jackson, Mississippi — which they referred to as “Jafrica” — to “go fuck with some n*ggers.” They came across Anderson, a 49-year-old auto plant worker, and assaulted him while yelling “white power.” While Anderson was on the ground, Dedmon ran him over with his truck.

Two women who were involved in the altercation and who encouraged the trio to kill Anderson pleaded guilty to hate crimes charges in December for their role in the criminal conspiracy.

U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves, one of only two African-Americans to serve at as a federal judge in Mississippi, spoke to Dedmon, Rice, and Butler before sentencing them for the hate crime charges related to Anderson’s death.

“Mississippi has expressed its savagery in a number of ways throughout its history — slavery being the cruelest example, but a close second being Mississippi’s infatuation with lynchings,” he said.

Reeves compared the number of blacks who died via lynchings to other statistics commonly associated with tragedy in American culture. The 4,742 African-Americans who were killed by lynch mobs “contrasts with the 1,401 prisoners who have been executed legally in the United States since 1976. In modern terms, that number represents more than those killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom and more than twice the number of American casualties in Operation Enduring Freedom — the Afghanistan conflict. Turning to home, this number also represents 1,700 more than who were killed on Sept. 11.”

Quoting one Mississippi historian, Reeves noted that of “‘the 40 martyrs whose names are inscribed in the national Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, AL, 19 were killed in Mississippi.’”

“‘How was it,’ Walton asks, ‘that half who died did so in one state?’ My Mississippi, your Mississippi and our Mississippi.”

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Source: RawStory | 

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