Family of Slain Mississippi Man in SPLC Case Urges Prosecutor to Take Death Penalty Off the Table

By urging the prosecutor in Jackson, Miss., to not seek the death penalty for those responsible for the vicious killing of James Anderson, his family members have taken a noble position and made a clear statement that, while they seek justice, they are not out for revenge.

The family’s request was delivered to Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith this morning. In the letter, Anderson’s sister, Barbara Anderson Young, quotes Coretta Scott King to explain her opposition to the death penalty: “An evil deed is not redeemed by an evil deed of retaliation. Justice is never advanced in the taking of a human life.”

The lawsuit we’ve filed on behalf of Anderson’s family – in cooperation with Mississippi attorney Winston J. Thompson III – alleges that Anderson, a black man, was the victim of a brutal hate crime in the early morning hours of June 26.

The suit accuses seven white teenagers of deliberately setting out to “go f--k with some n----rs.” It says they attacked Anderson in a motel parking lot and then ran over him with a large pickup truck, killing him. During the attack, one of his attackers shouted, “White power!,” according to the lawsuit.

Even in the days immediately following this senseless killing, Anderson’s family saw beyond their pain and grief and sought to have the death of their brother and son serve in a positive way to build bridges of trust, respect and love between the races. That’s why they have established the James Anderson Foundation for Racial Tolerance and that’s why they now urging the state not to take another life.
Their plea is especially significant given Mississippi’s long history of using the death penalty against African-Americans for crimes against whites, a pattern that sadly exists all across the South.