Mississippi Hub

Mississippi Man Claims Facebook Panic In Brutal Beating Of Gay Man: VIDEO


Corinth, Mississippi resident James Scott denies that a vicious attack on gay man Devin Norman last weekend was a hate crime, reports WREG.

6a00d8341c730253ef01b7c768cd54970b-800wiScott (above) has admitted to attacking Devin Norman (right) in the car park of a Corinth Walmart last Friday.  Norman suffered a broken cheekbone and other serious facial injuries.

Scott alleges that Norman threatened to out him using images posted on Facebook.

Scott said:

“I cannot see how it could be a hate crime. I don’t even have an emotional hatred for him. The only thing I dislike about it was that he took something from me...I should have know better. I should have been more of an adult. I should have thought before I acted.”

Charges against Scott are likely to be upgraded from simple assault to aggravated assault after police found out Norman suffered broken bones.

Watch an interview with Scott and Norman, AFTER THE JUMP...



Continue reading "Mississippi Man Claims Facebook Panic In Brutal Beating Of Gay Man: VIDEO" »

Gay Man Brutally Beaten In Possible Hate Crime In Mississippi


Police in Mississippi are investigating a brutal assault that may have been an anti-gay hate crime.

Devin Norman (above) suffered a broken cheek bone and other serious facial injuries when he was attacked in the parking lot of a Walmart in Corinth, Mississippi, on Friday afternoon. 


ScottInvestigators said James David Scott (right), 23, of Tishomingo County, confronted the victim, Devin Norman, 26, of Corinth, about an alleged post made on social media.

"The alleged Facebook post was apparently sexual in nature," Police Chief Ralph Dance said. "We haven't been able to verify that there was ever a Facebook post made."

After a few words were exchanged between the two, police said Scott threw Norman to the ground and kicked him several times in the face.

Scott fled on foot before being captured, but was later released on bond. He is currently charged with simple assault, but police say the charge will be upgraded to aggravated assault because Norman suffered broken bones. 

Norman and his friends say the incident was an anti-gay hate crime, but police haven't confirmed that, according to WTVA-TV: 

They are, however, investigating to see if there's a possible hate crime. 

Dance also said the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been contacted by members of the community, and it's currently being investigated.

"We've heard from several people, including the victim, that the suspect beat him up because he's homosexual," Dance said. "So far, we don't have any proof that's the case."

Mississippi's hate crime law doesn't include sexual orientation, but Scott could face federal charges under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act. 

A post about the attack went viral on Facebook over the weekend, and Norman's friends launched a GoFundMe campaign, "Justice For Devin," to help with medical and other expenses. They also staged a rally outside the Walmart on Sunday (below). 

"Devin Norman is a rockstar in our small town in MIssissippi," the GoFundMe campaign states. "Everyone knows him and everyone loves him, so we were shocked and completely heartbroken when he was brutally attacked in a Walmart parking lot. He was completely defenseless as his cowardly attacker relentlessly beat him for being gay. ... Nobody should ever feel this way or be treated this way. Violence is not the answer — love is!"


Starkville, Mississippi Officials Override Mayor's Veto, Repeal Historic Gay-Rights Initiatives


One year ago today, Starkville, Mississippi, became the first city in the state to pass a resolution recognizing the dignity of its LGBT citizens. 

However, instead of celebrating the anniversary of the historic resolution, the city's LGBT community is reeling from the Board of Aldermen's decision to undo it on Tuesday night. 

Wiseman.ParkerAs expected, the board voted 5-2 to override Mayor Parker Wiseman's (right) veto of its previous vote to repeal the pro-LGBT resolution. Perhaps more importantly, the board also voted to override Wiseman's veto of its vote to repeal domestic partner benefits for city employees, which were passed in September

The votes came after hours of public comments from dozens of speakers, most of whom expressed support for the pro-LGBT policies. The LGBT community also staged a rally and launched a hashtag, #WeAreStarkville, in advance of the vote. 

Human Rights Campaign Mississippi director Rob Hill issued this statement

“Though upsetting and disappointing, the board’s vote tells us that we must do more community engagement to show the leaders of Starkville that equality is important to move the city forward. Fairness and inclusion is critical to attracting new business to Starkville, diverse students to Mississippi State and quality workers to join the city’s workforce. Mayor Parker Wiseman showed tremendous leadership, courage and confidence to represent all residents of Starkville, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. LGBT people are our friends, neighbors, coworkers and family members, and we must ensure all people are welcomed within their communities."

Ultimately, the board's decision to override the mayor's veto won't have much practical impact. No employees had signed up for domestic partner benefits, according to Wiseman. Assuming that the U.S. Supreme Court makes marriage equality the law of the land in June, gay employees in Starkville will be eligible for spousal benefits. 

The resolution, meanwhile, was nonbinding and largely symbolic, and needless to say aldermen can never take away LGBT citizens' dignity, no matter how hard they try. 

If anything, as HRC's Hill suggested, the primary effects of the board's decision will be to hurt the city's economy and Mississippi State University's ability to recruit top students and faculty. 

So congratulations, aldermen. 

Twitter reactions to the Board's vote, AFTER THE JUMP ... 

Continue reading "Starkville, Mississippi Officials Override Mayor's Veto, Repeal Historic Gay-Rights Initiatives" »

LGBT Activists In Starkville, Mississippi, Stage Rally, Launch Hashtag In Support Of Gay-Rights Initiatives


Earlier this month, we reported that the mayor of Starkville, Mississippi, had bravely vetoed a Board of Alderman decision to repeal two historic gay-rights initiatives. 

With the Board of Alderman expected to override Mayor Parker Wiseman's veto on Tuesday night, LGBT activists launched a Twitter hashtag, #WeAreStarkville, and staged a rally Saturday outside the county courthouse. 

The Commercial Dispatch reports: 

Besides local calls, the Human Rights Campaign, a national supporter of LGBT rights, issued a notice for pro-equality advocates to attend Tuesday's 5:30 p.m. meeting at City Hall. 

"As a Mississippi State University graduate and lifelong resident of the Magnolia State, I realize this is the moment to show the world the road to advance equality in Mississippi begins in Starkville," Rob Hill, HRC Mississippi director, said. "The city has already proven once before it is on the right side of history, and what happens Tuesday will determine whether it remains the statewide leader of inclusion, fairness and opportunity." ... 

At MSU's Mitchell Memorial Library on Thursday, organizers estimated about 200 people took pictures together with signs bearing the #WeAreStarkville social media hashtag.  

On Saturday, pro-LGBT activists again spoke out publically against the city's recent action at the steps of the Oktibbeha County Chancery Courthouse. 

"We're here, and we're not going anywhere. We're going to keep fighting and speaking out," said rally organizer Melissa Grimes. "There are about 900 more days until we can elect new officials. Their time is coming, and we have their number. We're going to make sure that those who supported us are taken care of. Those aldermen who didn't, we'll show up and vote them out of office." 

Starkville, which has a population of 24,000 and sits adjacent to Mississippi State University, became the first city in the state to approve a statement of support for LGBT equality last January — and the first to extend benefits to the domestic partners of employees in September. 

However, after some members flip-flopped under pressure from anti-LGBT religious groups, the Board of Alderman voted 5-2 in a closed session earlier this month to repeal the policies — prompting Wiseman's veto. If the 5-2 majority holds, it will be enough to override the mayor's decision. 

The five aldermen who voted to repeal the measures were Lisa Wynn, Ben Carver, David Little, Roy A. Perkins and Henry Vaughn. In case you're wondering, their contact info can be found here

View more photos from the #WeAreStarkville hashtag, AFTER THE JUMP... 

Continue reading "LGBT Activists In Starkville, Mississippi, Stage Rally, Launch Hashtag In Support Of Gay-Rights Initiatives" »

Bigoted Mississippi School District Officials Fighting to Stop Formation of Gay-Straight Alliance

A school district in central Mississippi is pulling out all the stops in an attempt to prevent students from creating a gay-straight alliance on campus, The Clarion-Ledger reports:

Weathersby[Rankin County Superintendent Lynn] Weathersby (pictured right) brought up the issue at Wednesday's school board meeting, making clear his intentions to limit such organizations in Rankin County schools.

"I talked to (board attorney) Freddie (Harrell) and several administrators about what we could legally do to limit organizations like that on campus that we don't want to endorse and don't want," Weathersby said.

Although school board members and officials said they were not aware of any attempt to form a club in the district, Brandon High School theatre teacher Janice Weaver said she was approached by a student in December who expressed a desire to create a gay-straight alliance (GSA), or a student-led, student-organized club aimed at combating anti-gay discrimination and bullying in schools. Weaver said the student submitted the proposal for the club to school administrators. 

At the meeting, Weathersby said the best way to stop the "gay club" would be to require parents to sign a consent form allowing their children to participate in the club.

The paper continues:

School board attorney Freddie Harrell echoed Weathersby, saying a gay club might violate educational standards and principles adopted by the school district such as abstinence-only sexual education.

Newly appointed board member Ira Singleton asked Harrell what would happen if parents did consent to their children participating in such a club. Harrell responded that at that time, it would be up to the school's principal to decide whether the club meets school requirements.

In a statement, HRC Mississippi State Director Rob Hill blasted the district's actions, saying:

“The policy sends a harmful message to LGBT students in Rankin County that they are not welcomed within their classrooms, at school functions or on the bus. The board’s actions tell LGBT students that they should be ashamed of who they are and that their lives are valued less than their peers. Keeping our children safe is critical. We demand the Superintendent, and the board, reverse its decision to publicly humiliate, degrade and embarrass young LGBT people."

The ACLU of Mississippi, meanwhile, has already sent a letter to Weathersby letting him know that the district could land in legal hot water if students are blocked from forming GSA clubs. You can read the letter below:

Starkville, Mississippi Mayor Makes Brave Stand For LGBT Equality, Vetoes Repeal Of Gay-Rights Measures: VIDEO


Starkville, Mississippi Mayor Parker Wiseman is standing up to bigoted and spineless members of the city's Board of Aldermen who are intent on repealing historic gay-rights initiatives approved last year. 

Starkville, which has a population of 24,000 and sits adjacent to Mississippi State University, became the first city in the state to approve a statement of support for LGBT equality in January — and the first to extend benefits to the domestic partners of employees in September. 

WynnBut those policies have been under fire ever since from anti-LGBT members of the city's Board of Aldermen, who initially voted to repeal domestic partner benefits two weeks later — claiming they didn't realize the new insurance policy they approved had included them. After Wiseman vetoed the repeal, Alderman Lisa Wynn (right) walked out of a meeting, leaving the anti-LGBT coalition one member short of the five-vote supermajority needed to override the mayor's decision. 

Now Wynn reportedly has flip-flopped again — joining a 5-2 majority that voted last Tuesday to repeal both policies during a three-hour closed door meeting with no public input, scrutiny or record of how members voted. In a letter vetoing the latest repeal effort on Friday, Wiseman called out the aldermen, listing how they voted and eloquently defending the policies. 

From Wiseman's letter vetoing the repeal of the statement of support for LGBT equality: 

"On January 6, 2015, the Starkville Board of Aldermen went behind closed doors and without notice or explanation repealed its nondiscrimination resolution. To date, the Board has offered no explanation as to why it repealed a resolution against discrimination. 

"I believe mistreating a person because of his or her ... LGBT status is wrong. I believe in the dignity and worth of all people, and I believe that in a just society, all people must be equal in the eyes of the law," Wiseman wrote in his veto of the board's repeal of the non-discrimination language. "The equality resolution is about one simple thing, and that is how we treat each other. And I believe that our community is one that fosters love and respect for all, including our LGBT citizens. Accordingly, I veto the Board's action to repeal its resolution supporting equality."

And from his letter vetoing the repeal of domestic partner benefits: 

"The sole purpose of the amendment on January 6, 2015 was to exclude domestic partners from coverage eligibility. I cannot abide a decision to deny any of our employees the opportunity to see to it that their loved ones can receive medical care when they are sick," Wiseman wrote in his insurance amendment veto. Furthermore, the Board took up the issue behind closed doors without any prior notice to the public. I find this action to be in direct conflict with our responsibility to be open and transparent with the public. 

"I cannot abide a decision to deny any of our employees the opportunity to see to it that their loved ones can receive medical care when they are sick. It is an opportunity that the city is fully capable of providing and it costs the city nothing. Additionally, I am disturbed that the Board hid its action on the matter from the public until it was done. Accordingly, I veto the Board's order to amend the +1 coverage under the city's medical insurance plan."

The Dispatch reports that if the 5-2 anti-LGBT coalition holds it will be enough to override Wiseman's veto: 

Starkville gained national attention with its LGBT-friendly policies -- passed by the same board members who voted against them Tuesday -- this year, but Wiseman said perception issues from Tuesday's closed-door meeting's results could tarnish the city's reputation. 

"There's no question in my mind that this sends the worst possible message to the outside world about our community," Wiseman said Wednesday. "My biggest worry right now is the message it sends in our city and to our workforce. It says members of the LGBT community are not worthy of discrimination protections. 

"I believe that's wrong in every sense of the word," he added. "I want members of the LGBT community to know that I will not give up the fight to ensure that discrimination will not be tolerated. 

The five alderman who voted to repeal the measures were Wynn, Ben Carver, David Little, Roy A. Perkins and Henry Vaughn. In case you're wondering, their contact info can be found here

Read Wiseman's letters vetoing the repeals, and watch a report from WCBI-TV, AFTER THE JUMP ...

Continue reading "Starkville, Mississippi Mayor Makes Brave Stand For LGBT Equality, Vetoes Repeal Of Gay-Rights Measures: VIDEO" »


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