June 26, 2011
James Craig Anderson dies after he was beaten and run over a few days before
A group of drunk teenagers began throwing beer bottles at people before one of the teenagers, 18-year-old Deryl Dedmon, suggested “Let’s go fuck with some niggers.” They drove in two vehicles until they encountered Anderson who had lost his keys and was trying to gain access to his vehicle.
The group beat and robbed Anderson as, according to a witness, one of the attackers yelled “white power.” One vehicle left the scene while the other, driven by Dedmon, ran Anderson over. Anderson had gotten to his feet and was staggering on the side of the road when Dedmon backed up and accelerated into Anderson, causing fatal injuries. Anderson succumbed to these injuries a few days later.
Although the case was originally to be tried locally, national attention brought the case to a federal level. The resulting FBI investigation revealed a string of hate crimes against black people in the area between 2011 and 2012. Ten conspirators were identified, including those involved in Anderson’s murder. All were convicted, their sentences ranging from 4 to 18 years in federal prison. Dedmon was sentenced to 50 years; Anderson’s family had asked Dedmon be spared the death penalty.
In 2011, a civil wrongful-death suit was brought against the attackers by Anderson’s mother and siblings. Anderson’s partner of 17 years, James Bradfield, could not participate in the suit as the state of Mississippi did not recognize same-sex relationships. The court ruled in favor of Anderson’s family in 2016, and ordered the attackers to pay $849,000.