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Mississippi man convicted of first transgender hate crime

May 22, 2017

In the first conviction under the Matthew Shepard, James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, a Mississippi man was sentenced to 49 years in prison along with a $20,000 fine.

Joshua Vallum murdered Mercedes Williamson in May 2015 after discovering that Williamson was transgender. Williamson feared retribution from his gang, the Latin Kings after participating in a sexual relationship with Williamson, a transgender woman.

As published in The JURIST, Attorney General Jeff Sessions states, “Today’s sentencing reflects the importance of holding individuals accountable when they commit violent acts against transgender individuals.  The Justice Department will continue its efforts to vindicate the rights of those individuals who are affected by bias motivated crimes.”

Transgender rights have recently been in the headlines, mostly with respect to laws in various states, regarding bathroom rights.  North Carolina and former Governor Pat McCrory have been at the forefront of the transgender bathroom battle.  Read more about current legislation in North Carolina, in the full article.

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