In the nearly three months since the death of a candidate for mayor of Clarksdale, Mississippi, the family of the victim is still calling for answers from local law enforcement authorities and the intervention of the federal government in the case.
Indeed, the case of Marco McMillian continues to ignite conversations and controversy in Mississippi and beyond. McMillian, a 34-year-old African-American mayoral candidate and the first openly gay aspirant for public office in the state that anyone can recall, was found dead in February.
Police charged a 22-year-old man, Lawrence Reed, with murder but they have not disclosed any theory on the motive. And other than that, little else has occurred since McMillian’s death.
Recently, the family hired Parks & Crump, the Florida-based law firm that also represents Trayvon Martin’s parents. They contend that there has been too little information from the local police and that they continue to look for answers.
“The mother of Marco McMillian has written the local sheriff with questions she had about the case and, to this day, the sheriff hasn’t responded,” said Daryl D. Parks, the attorney, in an interview with BET.com. “In this time of victims’ rights, we’re not seeing the same kind of consideration for this family that you seem to get for families that are not African-American.”
Parks said that the autopsy of McMillian revealed more than a dozen burn marks and that the candidate’s death appeared to be particularly horrible.
“The autopsy shows a very gruesome, torturous death,” Parks said. Also, the family continues to question whether McMillian’s death was a hate crime.
“Given the fact that Marco’s sexuality has been brought up so much, there is a strong possibility that his sexual orientation played some role in his death,” Parks said. “It brings about that suspicion.”
Meanwhile, the family is planning a rally in Clarksdale along with local civil rights groups in early June, Parks said. In the meantime, the case of McMillian, a onetime executive director of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, has not faded from being a topic of discussion in Mississippi.
“This is an important case locally as well as nationally because Marco was someone eyeing public office who was actually openly gay,” said Derrick T. Simmons, a Mississippi state senator, who went to college with McMillian at Jackson State University, speaking with BET.com. “And people in Mississippi, just like people in a lot of the Southern states, have not fully accepted same-sex relationships. They aren’t there yet.”
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(Photo: Troy Catchings/The Clarksdale Press Register/AP Photo)