Gay, Black Miss. Mayoral Candidate Found Dead

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Feb. 28 2013 11:25 AM

Gay, Black Mayoral Candidate in Mississippi Found Dead, Homicide Suspected

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The Mississippi state flag

Photo by Bill Colgin/Getty Images

An openly gay, African-American mayoral candidate in Mississippi was found dead earlier this week, and police suspect homicide—although local police say that they have no reason to suspect his death was a hate crime.

Marco McMillian, 34, went missing Tuesday after his car was involved in a wreck outside of Clarksdale, the town of about 18,000 where McMillan was running for mayor. McMillian, however, wasn't driving his vehicle, and no one knew where he was until his body was found by authorities near a Mississippi River levee yesterday.

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The Associated Press reports that police have a suspect in custody but aren't releasing a name yet. Meanwhile, the Clarksdale Press-Register, citing "other avenues" of inquiry, is naming 22-year-old Lawrence Reed as the suspect. He's identified by the paper's sources as the man behind the wheel of McMillian's car when it crashed.

The Coahoma County Sheriff's office says that it has found nothing to suggest that the suspect was politically motivated, but they haven't yet said anything about the motive or cause of death, according to Reuters.

McMillian's supporters and the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund say that McMillian was probably one of the first viable LGBT candidates for mayor in the Magnolia State—although it remains unclear just how strong his chances of winning a popular vote in the dark red state were.

Abby Ohlheiser is a Slate contributor.

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