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Justice Dept. steps in trans murder case

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In an unusual move that Attorney General Jeff Sessions initiated, the Justice Department has dispatched an experienced federal hate-crimes lawyer to Iowa to help prosecute a man charged with murdering a transgender high school student last year, according to The New York Times.

Kedarie Johnson ( a 16-year-old student in Burlington, Iowa ) was fatally shot in March 2016. Christopher Perras, a Justice Department lawyer, will serve as a county prosecutor in the case, according to court documents.

However, some LGBT groups have viewed this development with skepticism. In a statement, Human Rights Coalition Legal Director Sarah Warbelow said, "One week after Jeff Sessions changed DOJ policy by refusing to protect transgender people under Title VII and launched a sweeping license to discriminate against LGBTQ people, he's seeking credit for prosecuting a hate crime? We believe Americans deserve an Attorney General willing to address systemic discrimination and enforce policies and laws that prevent hate violence in the first place."

Lambda Legal Director of Strategy Sharon McGowan said, "Of course it is important and right that the Department of Justice assist in bringing to justice the murderer of Kedarie/Kandicee Johnson, one of the far too many transgender people, and especially transgender people of color, targeted in the ongoing lethal epidemic of hate violence. But it is the height of cynicism for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to use this—frankly rare—instance of civil rights enforcement under his tenure to deflect from the current department's sustained opposition to its historic mission.

The New York Times article is at .

See related coverage at the link: .

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