Texas Members of the Nation of Islam, the New Black Panthers and the NAACP on Saturday promised protests to bring more attention to the killing of an east Texas man whose death recalls, for some, a notorious decade-old hate crime.
Speaker after speaker at a memorial service said they disagreed with the district attorney's stance that Brandon McClelland's death was not racially motivated.
"If this is not a hate crime, then there is no such thing as a hate crime," said Krystal Muhammad of the New Black Panthers. "Even though our brother was viciously slain, we will not let him die in vain."
Two white men, accused of running McClelland down and dragging his body about 70 feet beneath their pickup, remain jailed on murder charges. They face up to life in prison if convicted.
Authorities have cast doubt on theories that the attack was a hate crime but said they will take another look when autopsy results become available this week. A determination of racial bias in a crime can increase penalties, but not for the murder charges these defendants face.