Three white men have been sentenced for their roles in racially-motivated crime in Jackson, Mississippi. Deryl Paul Dedmon, John Aaron Rice and Dylan Wade Butler were, according to the New York Times, “out hunting black people” when the crime was committed.
On June 26, 2011, they attacked a man named James Craig Anderson. Rice, Butler and another man distracted Anderson outside of a motel until others arrived. Dedmon and Rice then beat up Anderson. Afterwards, Dedmon ran over the victim with a Ford F250 pickup truck, which resulted in Anderson’s death.
Dedmon, Rice, and Butler, who are all in their early twenties, are from Brandon, Mississippi. Anderson was 47 years old when he died.
Dedmon and another man reportedly yelled “White Power!” during the attack. The actions of the men involved in the death of Anderson were apparently calculated because Dedmon, Rice and Butler commenced their campaign to attack black people around Jackson, Mississippi, back in the spring of 2011.
The men were involved in a spree of attacks. They would target blacks who were intoxicated or homeless – people they believed would not go to the police. Attorney General Eric Holder made a statement saying that the men’s actions were “hate crimes, motivated solely by race, that shook an entire community and claimed the life of an innocent man.”
All three men plead guilty in March 2012. The counts were one of conspiracy and one of committing a hate crime. On Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015, the Mississippi men were sentenced for their racially-motivated crime. U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves gave Dedmon a sentence of 50 years in federal prison. Rice received a term of 18 1/2 years and Butler received seven years. None of the men are eligible for probation.
During the court session, Barbara Anderson Young, Anderson’s sister, passionately criticized the men for their actions. She said that her brother died because of strangers who were filled with hatred. All three men, in jumpsuits and shackles, apologized for what they did to Anderson’s family.
Butler read to the court part of a letter that he had written. In it, he made it known that he took responsibility for his actions. Abby Brumley, his attorney, asserts that the man is truly remorseful for what he did.
Before he delivered the sentence, Judge Reeves stated to the court that Anderson’s death illustrated the “inhumanity in racism” that the state of Mississippi has had to deal with throughout its history. Reeves read from a speech that he had written. In it, he discussed the conflict-filled past of Mississippi and he talked about how hate crimes have often included hunts for African-Americans. Reeves told Dedmon, Rice and Butler that this is exactly what the men did to Anderson. Reeves expressed regrettably that Anderson’s blood was added to Mississippi’s soil.
Although the Mississippi men, Dedmon, Rice, and Butler, were sentenced for their racially-motivated crime on Tuesday, seven other men involved in the case are still getting ready for sentencing of their own. Reeves will sentence three of them on February 25 and another judge will sentence the other four in April.
By Emilee Prado
Photo by Jenn Vargas – Flickr License