Social Media Pushes Mississippi DA to Charge Hate Crime After Gay Man Brutally Beaten at Walmart
A social media campaign has urged the district attorney in Corinth, Mississippi to investigate a possible hate crime after a gay man was brutally beaten at a local Walmart.
Corinth chief of police Ralph Dance told WTVA that 23-year-old James David Scott assaulted 26-year-old Devin Norman in a Walmart parking lot around 1pm on Friday. The confrontation occurred over a Facebook post that Dance called “apparently sexual in nature.”
According to Norman, Scott beat him because of his sexual orientation. Reports said that Scott had called Norman a “faggot” during the incident.
“I think that it’s a travesty that there’s an entire segment of abuse that’s just swept under the rug,” Norman explained. “Yes, his assault was aggravated but it’s entirely something else. Entirely. It was simply because of who I love.”
Sources close to Norman told WMC he had threatened to “out” Scott with private text messages and photos that the two men had shared with each other. But Norman insisted that he no longer had the photos.
“I was bluffing, hoping that he would back away from me because his body language was so threatening, and violence scares me,” he recalled.
Scott was charged with simple assault. Police later said that the charges would be upgraded to aggravated assault on Monday.
Norman has called on police to charge Scott with a hate crime, but officials indicated that they did not think the evidence supported that charge.
A social media campaign launched on Sunday asked people to contact District Attorney Trent Kelly to urge him to pursue hate crime charges. A petition on the White House website asked the president to “force” the DA to classify the attack as a hate crime.
IfYouOnlyNews.com points out that Mississippi has no law protecting LGBT people against hate crimes. Scott could be charged under federal hate crime laws.
Watch the video below from WMC, broadcast March 23, 2015.