The family of the gay mayoral candidate whose body was found beaten and burned want a hate crime investigation, though local authorities don't. Now the FBI is reportedly stepping in to see whether federal charges are warranted.
USA Today reports that the FBI is responding to the family's request and will consider whether the murder of Marco McMillian, an openly gay candidate for mayor in Clarksdale, Mississippi, should be prosecuted under the fairly new Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
For its part, the Coahoma County Sheriff's Department had refused to request that the feds investigate. Mississippi doesn't have a hate crimes law that is inclusive of sexual orientation protection, so it would have had to rely on the federal law.
USA Today points out that Mississippi has the country's worst record for prosecuting anything as a hate crime. It reported just one hate crime in 2011, less than anywhere else, and in 2005 and 2007 it reported none.
No information has been released by police on what might have motivated the man they arrested in the attack, Lawrence Reed, except that the county coroner claimed politics wasn't a factor.