Two women have pleaded guilty in connection with a series of attacks on African-Americans in Mississippi that included running over and killing a man with a Ford F250 truck.
The Clarion-Ledger reports that Shelbie Brooke Richards and Sarah Adelia Graves each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to violate the federal hate crime law. Richards also pleaded guilty to concealing from investigators information about James Craig Anderson's killing. Both women are 21.
"The continuing investigation into the events surrounding the vicious murder of James Craig Anderson that resulted in today's guilty pleas demonstrates that the Department of Justice will vigorously pursue justice for every victim of racially-motivated violence," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta for the Civil Rights Division. "No person should have to fear that they will be attacked because of the color of their skin as they walk the streets of their own city. We will continue to use the tools at our disposal to ensure that racial equality in America is a reality as well as an ideal."
"Hate based crimes have no place in America," said U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis for the Southern District of Mississippi. "In addition to the injury to the victim, these crimes damage the fabric of our society. The citizens of this district should know that this office will continue to vigorously enforce federal laws that guarantee the civil rights of all citizens."
Richards and Graves admitted that, beginning in the spring of 2011, they and others conspired with one another to harass and assault African Americans in west Jackson. On numerous occasions, the co-conspirators used dangerous weapons including beer bottles, sling shots and motor vehicles to cause and attempt to cause bodily injury to African-Americans.
Anderson's death outside a Jackson hotel in 2011 sparked a broader investigation into reports that young white men and women were driving from mostly white Rankin County into majority-black Jackson to assault African-Americans.
Six others also have pleaded guilty.
Richards' statement said she encouraged one of those defendants to hit Anderson with his truck, then lied to investigators about it.