On the 20th anniversary of this monumental crime, ADL continues to fight for stronger hate crime laws in all 50 states.
On June 7, 1998, Shawn Allen Berry, Lawrence Russell Brewer, and John William King chained James Byrd, Jr. by his ankles to the back of a truck and dragged him down a rural road until his right arm and head were severed from his body. Brewer and King were avowed white supremacists. All three men were convicted of Byrd’s murder and Brewer and King were sentenced to death, while Berry was sentenced to life in prison. Brewer was executed in 2011. King remains on death row.
Our thoughts are with the family of James Byrd, Jr. They endured unimaginable pain after his death, yet they responded with dignity, grace, and resolve to make the world a better place. James Byrd, Jr.’s family worked with ADL in the aftermath of his death to strengthen Texas’ hate crime law by supporting passage of the James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Act, based on the model hate crime law crafted by ADL. They also helped a coalition of organizations spearheaded by ADL work on passage of the federal Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
Today, we work with law enforcement and communities to encourage better reporting and vigorous investigation and prosecution of hate crimes, and we train law enforcement all over the country to recognize and respond to hate crimes.
The heinous murder of James Byrd, Jr. reminds us that our dedication to fighting hate for good is more important than ever, and we can’t accomplish this without your help.