Sessions Sends Hate Crimes Lawyer to Iowa to Prosecute Trans Murder Case

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In an unusual move — especially for an attorney general who earlier this month penned a memo stating that workplace protections don’t apply to LGBT people and has also discouraged schools from allowing transgender students to use restrooms matching their gender identity — Jeff Sessions has reportedly sent a federal hate crimes attorney to Iowa to help prosecute the murder of Kedarie Johnson, a 16-year-old high school student from Burlington who identified as both male and female and was shot to death last year.

According to the New York Times, the decision was “personally initiated” by Sessions, a right-wing appointee of President Trump who in the past has repeatedly opposed civil rights protections not only for the LGBT community but African Americans as well. The Justice Department usually does not assign federal prosecutors to local cases, the newspaper reported, and when they do, it’s “only in cases in which they can provide expertise in areas that the federal government views as significant.”

“This is just one example of the attorney general’s commitment to enforcing the laws enacted by Congress and to protecting the civil rights of all individuals,” Devin O’Malley, a Justice Department spokesman, told the Times.

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Gavin Aronsen is an editor and reporter for and founding member of the Iowa Informer. He previously worked as a city reporter for the Ames Tribune, research assistant to investigative journalist Wayne Barrett at the Village Voice, and in various roles at Mother Jones, where his work contributed to a National Magazine Award nomination for the magazine's digital media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Email: garonsen [at] iowainformer [dot] com.