This Day in Black History: June 7, 1998

James Byrd Jr. was brutally murdered by three white supremacists in Jasper, Texas.

Posted: 06/03/2012 07:00 AM EDT

 (Photo: Reuters /Landov)

A 49-year-old African-American man named James Byrd Jr. died on June 7, 1998 after he was beaten by three white supremacists, chained to the back of a pickup truck by his ankles and dragged for miles over an asphalt road because of the color of his skin.

 

All three of Byrd's murderers, John William King, Lawrence Russell Brewer and Shawn Allen Berry, were convicted following the crime. Brewer was executed in September 2011, King is still on death row and Berry is serving a life sentence.


Byrd’s death shocked the conscience of both the nation and the state of Texas and spurned hate crime legislation that allows the federal government to investigate and prosecute bias-motivated crimes based on the victim's race, gender, sexual orientation or disability. The law also gives the federal government jurisdiction over prosecuting hate crimes in states where the current law is inadequate or when local authorities are unwilling or do not have the resources to do so themselves.

 

 

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