Sessions sends hate crimes prosecutor in death of Black trans teen

Jeff Sessions‘ Department of Justice dispatched an experienced federal hate crimes lawyer to Iowa after a transgender high school student was murdered last year, in a move that seems to go against his record on civil rights.

Sessions, who has been largely criticized for enacting laws that allow more discrimination and for rolling back protections for civil rights, was credited with personally involving the federal government in the case of Kedarie Johnson, 16, who was shot and killed in March of 2016. Johnson was gay and reportedly identified as both male and female, occasionally going by the name Kandicee.

Sessions, despite his image, has spoken out against hate crimes in the past.

“Hate crimes are violent crimes,” Mr. Sessions said in a speech in June, adding, “No person should have to fear being violently attacked because of who they are, what they believe, or how they worship.”

However, while his proponents have lauded the move, Sessions’ critics have pointed out that aiding individual cases is not going to make a dent in the broader discriminatory problems facing many Americans.

“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,” said Vanita Gupta, the president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the former head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division during the Obama administration.

“While it is of course good that DOJ is aggressively pursuing this case, it would behoove Sessions to connect the dots between his policies that promote discrimination and hate that can result in death.”

Sessions’ actions may have stemmed from a letter that he received in March imploring the Justice Department to look into the epidemic of black and transgender women being murdered.