Two men pled guilty on Tuesday to federal hate crime charges stemming from a series of attacks on African-Americans in Jackson, MS last year, including the murder of James Craig Anderson, according to CNN.
William Kirk Montgomery, 23, and Jonathan Gaskamp, 20, were part of the group of young men responsible for Anderson’s violent death in June 2011. Montgomery was there the night that Darryl Dedmon, Jr. ran over Anderson with his truck after the group savagely beat the 49-year-old auto plant worker.
Though uninvolved in Anderson’s murder, Gaskamp had participated in other, similar attacks around Jackson with the group. Both Montgomery and Gaskamp pled guilty to federal hate crimes charges this week.
In total, five men from the group have been charged with crimes related to the attacks. Dedmon, John Aaron Rice and Dylan Butler all pled guilty to federal hate crime charges earlier this year. Dedmon was sentenced to life in prison and Rice and Butler face life sentences.
More Arrests Possible
Prosecutors on the case told CNN that even more arrests could be made as the investigation into the group’s repeated attacks around Jackson continues.
The group would target black men who appeared homeless or drunk, as the attackers believed they would be easier targets, according to CNN sources. Various members of the group would head out from mostly white Rankin County, MS, over to Jackson, which is mostly black, to carry out their attacks.
The attacks and the video of Anderson’s murder have sparked outrage in Mississippi. Dozens of demonstrations calling for justice for Anderson broke out in Jackson after the video was aired, and vigils were held in support of his family.
Pastor Brian Richardson of Castlewoods Baptist Church in Brandon, MS, spoke out against the violence, saying that there were signs that Dedmon was a dangerous individual but the community did nothing to speak up to the police.
“There are a lot of wonderful people in our community, but one of the problems we have is people think silence is golden, they don't know how to talk about it," Richard said.
As the news of the new guilty pleas have spread out, commenters across the nation have weighed in on Anderson’s untimely death.
Derrick Johnson, president of the Mississippi NAACP, hoped that this incident of hate could be used to teach future generations about the senselessness of the crime.
"Hoping that this will send a strong message to anyone else who may have been involved in this case or other cases that it will not be tolerated,” Johnson said to KLTV. "Senseless violence should not be tolerated regardless of race. But particularly when individuals are being targeted because of their race, that's a time in history in Mississippi we should move beyond.”