Justice Dept. to help in Iowa case of slain transgender teen

Justice Dept. to help in Iowa case of slain transgender teen

Justice Dept. to help in Iowa case of slain transgender teen

According to the New York Times, the move amounts to a political statement about "fighting violence against transgender people individually" because the DOJ only rarely assigns its attorneys to work local cases-and "only in cases in which they can provide expertise in areas that the federal government views as significant".

Yet in June, he made a vow to fight hate crimes and specifically called out the violence against transgender individuals.

Jeff Sessions is reportedly behind the Justice Department's decision to send an experienced federal hate crimes lawyer to help in the case of a gender fluid high school student who was murdered in 2016.

An attorney in Des Moines County filed first-degree murder charges against two men in January after they allegedly shot and killed 16-year-old Kedarie Johnson in 2016. If convicted, Sanders-Galvez could face the death penalty. Most of the time he presented as male, but he loved to wear hair extensions, leggings and glitter, and sometimes went by the name Kandicee. According to the New York Times, it is rare for the DOJ to appoint a federal lawyer to a local case.

It was sparked by a letter six House members sent Sessions last spring asking him to investigate several killings of transgender black women across the country.

In a speech at the 2017 Hate Crimes Summit, Sessions said, "The Trump Administration and the Department of Justice are committed to reducing violent crime and making America safe".

Devin O'Malley, a spokesman for the Justice Department said that this is an instance of the attorney general's allegiance to implement the laws validated by Congress and safeguarding the civil rights of all.

Vanita Gupta, the former head of the DOJ's civil rights division under President Obama, didn't give Sessions much credit for the move.

But he has also condemned hate crimes, the Times noted.

The DOJ is sending Christopher Perras, a Department of Justice (DOJ) lawyer, to Iowa to lead the prosecution of Sanders-Galvez.

A spokesperson for the Burlington Police Department said police, who have declined to disclose whether they uncovered a motive in the case, could find no evidence to indicate Johnson's murder was a hate crime and they chose not listed it as a hate crime.

Sessions recently reversed an Obama-era policy that protected transgender people from discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

While expressing support for the Justice Department's assistance in investigating the trans murder cases, including the Iowa case, some LGBT rights advocates said Sessions had undermined the safety and rights of trans people earlier this month in a sweeping action.

- Lou Chibbaro Jr., Washington Blade courtesy of the National LGBTQ Media Association.

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