This morning I read an article on USA Today (which can be accessed here) about Marco McMillian, a Clarksdale, Mississippi mayoral candidate, whose body was found on Wednesday morning at around 8:30. He had been missing since Tuesday. The candidate’s body was found near the Mississippi-Yazoo levy about 30 miles away from where his car crashed after being driven by someone else. McMillian, a native of Clarksdale, was living in Memphis until several months ago when he returned to his hometown to run for mayor. I was shocked and confused while reading this article, and, frankly, stunned that this article was printed with such little concrete information and so few solid facts.
As one of the first openly gay and political candidates and an LGBT advocate in Mississippi, McMillian was CEO of WMW & Associates, a consulting firm for non-profit organizations. He secured the first federal contract to raise awareness about the impact of HIV and AIDS in communities of color. As such a prominent public figure, McMillian’s death came as a shock to many, even in such a conservative, predominantly Republican state. Initially, I believed this to be a hate crime, against either racism or sexuality. However, this didn’t make me understand the circumstances anymore; while it is still early in the investigation and many questions still need to be answered, I wonder why this is happening at all. I believe that violent acts against racism or sexuality should have ended years ago. There is no excuse for such actions to still be an issue.
One problem I have with this article is the fact that there is simply not enough information present to determine what type of crime this was. Was it a hate crime against race or sexuality? What was the relationship between McMillian and Lawrence Reed, “a person of interest taken into custody”? Was this a domestic crime? There are simply too many questions to assume this was a hate crime. However, none of this excuses the facts of McMillian’s race and sexuality in such a conservative state. According to Coahoma Country Coroner Scotty Meredith, “politics likely wasn’t a factor in McMillian’s death.” Furthermore, McMillian’s spokesman for his campaign Jarod Keith stated the candidate was openly gay, but it never came up during the campaign. That being said, this was still an act of extreme violence, one that floored me.
What do you think? Was this an act against racism and/or sexuality, or simply “regular” homicide as the police suggest?