The FBI has opened an investigation to determine if the murder of an openly gay mayoral candidate in Mississippi was a hate crime. Marco McMillan, 34, was discovered naked, burned and apparently beaten to death near the banks of the Mississippi River on February 27. On February 28th, Lawrence Reed, 22, was charged with the murder. He is currently in custody. McMillan was considered a strong candidate to win the mayor's race in the town of Clarksdale, a city with a population of roughly 18,000 people. Mississippi does not have a hate crime statute that applies to victims of hate crimes that are committed based on sexual orientation. However, state and local authorities can request federal intervention to prosecute serious hate crimes under the Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act, as they have decided to do in this case. US Representative Bennie Thompson and the victim's family asked the FBI to become involved in the investigation. McMillan was one of the first viable openly gay candidates to ever run for office in the state of Mississippi.
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