By Ayesha K. Mustafaa
Recently the Jackson City Council passed an ordinance requiring local law enforcement officials undergo training to accurately report and document hate crimes committed in the city.
The next step taken was introduction of a resolution by Council President De’Keither Stamps, Ward 4, honoring the life of James Craig Anderson, a victim of one of the most heinous hate crimes in recent history.
The resolution chronicled that on June 26, 2011, Anderson was the “victim of a violent hate crime that robbed him of his life by racially motivated individuals who targeted him because he was of African American ethnicity.”
It noted that “after the assailants assaulted Anderson, causing him to plead for his own life, one of them barreled over him with his truck ending his life prematurely.”
In recognition of Anderson and his family, the resolution continued: “James Craig Anderson was as a loving son, caring brother and selfless friend born in Hinds County, Mississippi on June 30, 1963.
“He spent his time making an honest living in a local automotive shop, going to church, tending his garden and offering his service to his community and generosity to his peers.”
The six young men who assaulted Anderson have been prosecuted for federal hate crimes and all six pleaded guilty. The driver of the vehicle also pleaded guilty of hate crime murder and was given two life sentences, which he is now serving.
These individuals were convicted under the ‘Matthew Shepard-James Byrd J. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.”
As the council resolution stated that Anderson’s memory lives on through the life of his mother and siblings, family members came forward to accept the resolution and give brief remarks.
His sister, Barbara Anderson Young, said her brother did not die in vain. She said the family was humbled and thankful that the city council and the mayor would give this recognition to her brother. “We loved him dearly and know that ‘Jesus is Love,’” she said.
Stamps stated that there was much more to the story of the ordeal the Anderson family suffered with the murder of their loved one and the aftermath – the death threats to them and politically motivated inquiries.
The city’s hate crime ordinance, according to Stamps, “will ensure an efficient process and system to accurately report hate crimes, so we can encourage victims of these malicious acts to report them and be more proactive in fighting them.”
After the family members spoke, one poignant moment came when Councilwoman Margaret Barrett-Simon, Ward 7, apologized to the family for this tragedy on behalf of the whole city of Jackson. “It was unsettling and distutbing,” she said. “But I noticed and watched that you never gave up.”