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Exclusive: Murder of James ‘Craig’ Anderson on ID’s Love & Hate Crime: Murder in Mississippi

Too little too late, Sarah realized she should have resisted Dedmon's racist mission. Pic credit: ID
Too little too late, Sarah realized she should have resisted Dedmon’s racist mission. Pic credit: ID

Timely, horrific in scope and poignant, the murder of James “Craig” Anderson is the heartbreaking focus the next installment of Love & Hate Crime: Mississippi this Saturday night on Investigation Discovery.

A carload of white teens thought it would be fun to go to Jackson, Mississippi to run down some homeless or black people in a part of tow they called “Jafrica.”  They accomplished their goal and ended the life of a completely innocent man who was minding his business.

Investigation Discovery (ID) producers travel down to Jackson, Mississippi to examine the whys and hows of a murder fueled by racism.

Their documentary is the story of James “Craig” Anderson, targeted by these hate-filled white teens looking for trouble.

Anderson was a 48-year-old man who was murdered on June 26, 2011, by 18-year-old Deryl Dedmon, plus his accomplices John Rice, Dylan Butler, and William Montgomery, along with a few teen girls.

Not only did they run him down, but they also beat and robbed Anderson further until he died in the street.

The purpose of this documentary is to see the long-term impact of these ignorant and cruel actions, and how prejudice and racial slurs incubate hate. Make no mistake, hate is an active and energetic state, and it foments even more hate in groups.

There was one teen in the car that was different.

Sarah was one person in the car that law enforcement said ‘was in the wrong place at the wrong time” and who expressed disgust and remorse for the actions of the group. Our exclusive clip shows a conversation of regret she has with her friend Sam.

This modern-day lynching shows how one person – in this case, the leader and driver Deryl Dedmon – instigated the actions of a group of young men and got a few girls to go along with his plan.

Henry Schleiff, Group President of Investigation Discovery, Travel Channel, American Heroes Channel, and Destination America said in a press statement:

We feel it is part of our mission at Investigation Discovery to shed light on these tragic crimes and, thereby, expose the truth that hatred, based on race, is sadly, all too prevalent in the United States by revealing how a culture of hatred can so quickly turn into a culture of violence, this documentary opens up a controversial but important dialogue about the psychological effects of intolerance, showing that, today, perhaps as much as ever, there is a critical need for change.

The official description from ID:

In June, 2011, a group of young white teens from Rankin County, Mississippi decided to head over to nearby Jackson to intentionally assault someone in the majority black population of the city, which they dubbed “Jafrica.” James “Craig” Anderson became the group’s unsuspecting target when he was attacked and fatally struck with their car. While the driver, Deryl Dedmon, was initially charged and convicted of murder, the passengers in the vehicle were released. Through the work of the Southern Poverty Law Center, it was discovered that this was not an isolated event, but a pattern of racially-motivated lashing out from a white suburban community.

The documentary will have interviews with Anderson’s loved ones, officials who worked the case and family members of one of the convicted passengers. In the end, the four men in the truck that was used to run down Anderson were ordered by a federal judge in Mississippi to pay $840,000 in restitution to Anderson’s estate. The restitution case was prosecuted by the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department according to news reports.

It will ask the tough questions about why racism continues to be so prevalent especially, in the South, and how to uproot this deeply embedded toxic culture.

The culmination sees the judge in the case talk to the convicted teen’s family, asking them to reflect on how they raised their child.

Will this solve all racism? Likely not, but the earnest effort from ID and filmmakers will open many eyes and hopefully change hardened hearts so that this country is more empathetic, cohesive as a nation of many and respectful of all differences.

The second installment of the three-part BBC documentary series Love & Hate Crime: Murder in Mississippi airs Saturday, October 13 at 8/7c on Investigation Discovery.


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