Man charged with murder of gay mayoral candidate

 

A man has been charged with the murder of an openly gay candidate for mayor of a Mississippi town.

Lawrence Reed, 22, is accused of killing Marco McMillian, 34, whose body was discovered near a Mississippi levee on Wednesday.

Mr McMillian, an openly gay black Democrat, had been running for mayor of his home town, Clarksdale, which is famous for its blues music.

Authorities had been looking for him since Tuesday morning when his SUV was involved in a car crash with another vehicle and he was nowhere to be found.

Today, the Sheriff's Department said 22-year-old Lawrence Reed was charged with murder in the death.

Police did not release any other details.

Photos on Mr McMillian's website and Facebook page show him with a younger Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton. He met them while serving for four years as international executive director of the historically black Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc.

A statement from the fraternity said he had secured the first federal contract to raise awareness about the impact of HIV and AIDS on communities of colour. It noted that Ebony Magazine had recognized him in 2004 as one of the nation's “30 up-and-coming African Americans” under age 30.

Supporters say Mr McMillian had big ideas for Clarksdale, a town of about 17,800 people.

The town is well known to blues fans as the home of “the crossroads,” where Robert Johnson is said to have sold his soul to the devil for skills with a guitar. Academy Award-winning actor and Mississippi native Morgan Freeman is part owner of the Ground Zero Blues Club in town.

Clarksdale is also hounded by the poverty typical of the Mississippi Delta.

The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and Institute tweeted: “Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Marco McMillian, one of the 1st viable openly #LGBT candidates in Mississippi.”

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