DOJ sends a hate-crimes lawyer to Iowa to help prosecution in murder of gender-fluid student

Attorney General

Department of Justice

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is sending a hate-crimes lawyer to Iowa to help local prosecutors in their case against a man accused of murdering a high-school student.

The Justice Department lawyer, Christopher Perras, will act as a county prosecutor in the shooting death of 16-year-old Kedarie Johnson, who was killed in March 2016, report the New York Times and the Des Moines Register. The defendant is Jorge “Lumni” Sanders-Galvez.

Johnson’s mother told the Des Moines Register that her son liked to dress in women’s clothes and sometimes used the name Kandicee. But she said Johnson preferred the pronoun “he” and didn’t specifically identify as transgender.

According to the Times, Sessions “is sending a signal that he has made a priority of fighting violence against transgender people individually, even as he has rolled back legal protections for them collectively.”

Sessions and his Justice Department have taken the position that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act doesn’t bar workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

But Sessions has spoken out against white supremacist violence and hate crimes, and has initiated several hate-crimes cases, including a case against a man accused in a mosque arson, the article reports.

Des Moines County Attorney Amy Beavers told the Des Moines Register that federal authorities are investigating the case as a hate crime and “would like to be part of the state case for seamless prosecution, should an indictment in federal court be handed down.”

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