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Fatal Shooting of Louisiana Black Gay Man May Have Been Hate Crime

McKinsley LaKeith Lincoln
McKinsley LaKeith Lincoln

McKinsley LaKeith Lincoln had been "the target of harassment and discrimination," his mother said.

Police in Alexandria, La., are investigating the shooting death of Black gay man McKinsley LaKeith Lincoln and believe it may have been a hate crime.

Lincoln's family filed a missing person report Friday morning, after he had been gone for more than 24 hours, according to the National Black Justice Coalition, which has pressured police for a thorough investigation. Within hours, officers found him, dead of a gunshot wound. But family members said they became frustrated with the police department, leading them to involve NBJC.

"McKinsley is an openly gay man and was the target of harassment and discrimination," his mother, Pamela Lincoln, said in an NBJC press release issued Wednesday. "The police have a responsibility to ensure justice for the people of this parish [as counties are called in Louisiana]. They have not done enough to fulfill their oath. They haven't protected and served us."

NBJC asked civil rights attorneys Benjamin Crump and Jasmine Rand, along with Louisiana State Rep. Edward C. "Ted" James, who is also an attorney, to discuss the case with Alexandria city officials. Within 24 hours, Mayor Jeffrey W. Hall announced the police department would investigate "diligently" and look into the possibility that the crime was motivated by antigay bigotry, according to NBJC. Civil rights activists will continue to monitor the investigation.

"A criminal investigation into the unfortunate death of Mr. Lincoln is being conducted," an Alexandria Police Department spokesperson told New York's Gay City News via email. "All aspects of any criminality are being considered to include the possibility of hate crime involvement. So as to not jeopardize the integrity of the investigation, no information regarding any potential suspects or persons of interest will be released at this time."

"This tragic incident should be a reminder that hate crimes against Black LGBTQ and same-gender-loving people happen too frequently -- often without the national public outcry that our heterosexual brothers and sisters receive," NBJC Executive Director David John said in the press release. "In 2018 alone, over 1,500 hate crimes based on bias against someone's sexual orientation or gender identity were reported. And the violence is escalating. There was more than a 18 percent increase in these hate crimes from 2016 to 2018 and the FBI reports an 11 percent increase in anti-Black hate crimes during the same period."

"Hate crimes against people of every racial and ethnic category," he continued, have increased since Donald Trump's election as president because of his "racist rhetoric and destructive policies designed to divide and keep some of us locked out of access to opportunity."

His group will work with Lincoln's family to assure that the police department conducts "a complete and full investigation," he said, adding, "Not one member of our beautifully diverse community should experience violence, discrimination, or be murdered as a result of who we are or how we show up in the world. Each of us has a role to play in ensuring that we create a strong and inclusive community."

Anyone with information about the crime is asked to contact police detectives at (318) 449-5099.

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