The June 2 dragging death of Anthony Hill is without a doubt a hate crime, according to the New Black Panther Party. But the South Carolina state prosecutor and investigators aren’t so sure; claiming that Hill’s death at the hands of a White man could have been a dispute between two friends that had a love interest in the same woman.
Officials say Hill was killed by a gunshot to the head before he was dragged by a rope hanging from the back of a truck. According to The Boston Herald, Newberry County, S.C. police traced an 11-mile-long blood stain on the road to the home of Gregory Collins. After Collins barricaded himself in his house, police forced him out with tear gas, arrested him and charged him with the death of Hill.
“Certain types of killings, like being dragged behind a pickup truck, are vestiges of slavery and Jim Crow-type punishments,” said Malik Zulu Shabazz, president of the New Black Panther Party, according to BlackAmericaWeb.com. “They're inherently hate crimes. That's our position—that any time a Black person is dragged behind a pickup truck, automatically, there is a presumption that it is a hate crime.”
But investigators say Hill, 30, and Collins, 19, spent several hours together before the incident. The men worked together at a turkey processing plant, and co-workers told police they often ate lunch together. Hill was also a former firefighter in the National Guard.
"Just because Anthony Hill was an acquaintance of Gregory Collins, to us it's not material,” Shabazz said.
But local gossip says otherwise according to Andrew Shull, a Newberry, S.C. resident. The 23-year-old White male said Hill and Collins had an argument over a relationship they had with the same woman.
"It wasn't a hate crime," Shull said, according to BlackAmericaWeb.com. "I think people misconstrue what happens."
Newberry County's top prosecutor, Solicitor Jerry Peace, said he has not decided whether Collins will face the death penalty. But determining whether the murder was a hate crime will be up to the Justice Department, since the state does not have a hate crime statute. The results of an FBI investigation of the matter has not been disclosed.
“The only option is for the Justice Department to intervene here and to charge Mr. Gregory Collins with a hate crime,” Shabazz said.