Men await sentencing in deadly hate crime - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Men await sentencing in deadly hate crime

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RANKIN COUNTY, MS -

(WMC-TV) - Two Rankin County men await sentencing after pleading guilty to federal hate crime charges.

The NAACP is hoping the new pleas will signal more of the same and that the justice can be served for the family of the victim.

Jonathan Gaskamp and William Montgomery are the latest of five men who entered guilty pleas for their roles in the death of an African-American man in 2011.

James Craig Anderson was run over by a truck and killed. The entire incident was caught on surveillance camera.

The NAACP says the defendants' guilty pleas are a step in the right direction to stop the pattern of hate among the young adults responsible.

"Senseless violence should not be tolerated, regardless of race," said Derrick Johnson, Mississippi NAACP president. "But particularly when individuals are being targeted because of their race, that's a time on history in Mississippi we should move beyond."

Johnson said there was a time in the Magnolia State that those responsible for hate crimes, like the one against Anderson, were not brought to justice.

He is pleased to see federal prosecutors actively pursuing the case.

"As a state we can no longer avoid the questions and issues of race that is something we must move beyond. We must come together as a state and focus on public policy that improves the quality of life for everyone," said Johnson. "Hoping that this will send a strong message to anyone else who may have been involved in this case or other cases that it will not be tolerated."

James Craig Anderson's murder is only one in a string of crimes the group of men committed against vulnerable African-Americans in Jackson.

"I hope we learn that the taking of an innocent person's life does no one justice," said Johnson. "Unfortunately, we see young people, their life has now been taken. They will serve a substantial amount of their lives behind bars for a senseless crime."

The latest two guilty pleas could be beneficial as prosecutors look for others involved in Anderson's murder.

There are other teens named in the civil lawsuit filed by the Anderson family, who have yet to be charged.

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