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, a highly unusual move that officials said was personally initiated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Kedarie (Kandicee) Johnson was a 16-year-old nonbinary student, who friends and family said identified as both male and female and also as gay.
Justice Department lawyer Christopher Perras will serve as county prosecutor in tandem with Des Moines County Attorney Amy K. Beavers and Iowa Assistant Attorney General Laura Roan in the first degree murder case against Jorge "Lumni" Sanders-Galvez in the shooting of Johnson.
In taking the step, Mr. Sessions, a staunch conservative, is sending a signal that he has made a priority of fighting violence against transgender people individually, even as he has rolled back legal protections for them collectively.
The federal authorities are investigating the case as a federal hate crime, and so they would like to be part of the state case for seamless prosecution, should an indictment in federal court be handed down.
Sanders-Galvez' ethnicity also shines some light on the move.
Johnson, a well-liked junior at Burlington High whose death rocked his small community, did not identify specifically as transgender, his mother Katrina told the Register. He did enjoy dressing in women’s clothes and sometimes went by Kandicee with friends, but he always used the pronoun “he” and went by Kedarie in most of his daily life.
He had girlfriends, but “preferred boys.
A conservative, Sessions made headlines this month when he rolled back protections for transgender people in the workplace and asked the Justice Department to take the position that transgender people are not covered discrimination based on "sex."
We're just waiting until someone murders a transgender person and claims they did it in the name of "religious freedom."