Why Is DOJ Lawyer Aiding Iowa In Black Transgender Murder Case?


The Justice Department is sending a federal hate crimes lawyer to Iowa to help prosecute a man charged with killing a transgender teenager a year ago.

The case involves Kedarie Johnson, a 16-year-old high school student in Burlington, Iowa, who was shot to death in March 2016. Jorge "Lumni" Sanders-Galvez, 23, will stand trial next week for Johnson's murder; another man may be indicted in the crime.

"The federal authorities are investigating the case as a federal hate crime, and so they would like to be part of the state case for seamless prosecution, should an indictment in federal court be handed down", said Des Moines County Attorney Amy K. Beavers. Federal prosecutors are considering filing their own charges in the case.

As a senator from Alabama, Mr. Sessions has communicated against same sex marriage and voted against increasing federal hate crimes laws to safeguard transgender people, and civil right groups were furious when President Trump nominated him to be attorney general.

Despite his controversial stances concerning the LGBTQ community, Sessions told federal prosecutors at hate crimes meeting held by the Justice Department in June that he was concerned about a "spate of murders around the country of transgender individuals".

"This is just one example of the attorney general's commitment to enforcing the laws enacted by Congress and to protecting the civil rights of all individuals", Devin O'Malley, a spokesman for the Justice Department, told the Times. His mother, Katrina Johnson, told the Register that while he did not identify himself as transgender, he had girlfriends but "preferred boys". The New York Times first reported the decision Sunday.

Keeping with an earlier promise-and surprising the LGBTQ community- Attorney General Jeff Sessions will carry out legal proceedings against people who target transgender Americans. This is the first case prosecuted under the Hate Crimes Prevention Act involving the murder of a transgender person. "But it is the height of cynicism for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to use this - frankly rare - instance of civil rights enforcement under his tenure to deflect from the current department's sustained opposition to its historic mission".

"He has no problem with discrimination against LGBTQ people in jobs, education, and other facets of life, but will lean forward in this one case where a transgender individual has been killed", former Obama administration civil rights division head Vanita Gupta said to the Times.



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