On June 7, 1998, four months before Matthew Shepard was killed, James Byrd, Jr., a Black man in Jasper, Texas, was offered a ride home from three white men. The driver was someone he knew and trusted, so he accepted the ride.
The three men instead abducted him, beat him, tied him up and dragged him from the back of the vehicle for three miles, ultimately killing him in a heinous act of hate violence.
On the 10th anniversary of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, Cynthia Deitle of @MattShepardFDN read a powerful letter from Dennis & Judy Shepard to AG William Barr.— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) October 21, 2019
Their son, Matthew, was attacked in an anti-LGBTQ hate crime and died days later. pic.twitter.com/36sDRWKGoR
HRC and countless other groups and individuals worked for years to get justice for their murders with federal hate crimes policies and legislation.
Before the summit concludes, Clinton unveils a package of initiatives that includes expanding federal hate crimes laws to encompass crimes aimed at people because they are gay or disabled, or because of their sex.
Finally, in 2009, President Barack Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law. This law gives the Justice Department the power to investigate and prosecute bias-motivated violence where the perpetrator has selected the victim because of the person's actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.
HRC was proud to join the Shepard and Byrd families at the signing and continue to honor their memories to this day.