GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) – Attorneys for funeral homes suing a Mississippi coroner say he has acknowledged that he can’t remember ever sending a white person’s body to one of the county’s six black-owned funeral homes.
The federal trial against Harrison County and Coroner Gary Hargrove began Monday in Gulfport with jury selection and opening arguments.
The black-owned funeral homes accuse Hargrove of illegally discriminating against them in favor of two white-owned competitors.
The Sun Herald reports lawyer Rob McDuff tells jurors the case features an official “spending public money based on race.”
Harrison County attorney Tim Holleman argues that loved ones usually decide where bodies go, and that bodies needing autopsies are sent to homes with enough freezer capacity for long-term storage. Some black-owned funeral homes say they have these freezers.
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