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Project October 25, 2022

Why Did They Kill Michael Williams?

Author:

For The Guardian, reporter Jordan Michael Smith traveled to rural Iowa to report on an awful crime. In 2020, a former Army veteran named Steve Vogel beat and hanged his friend, Michael Williams. Vogel then enlisted his family members and friends to help him transport Williams' corpse into a ditch miles away and set it on fire.

Despite the fact that a white man had killed a Black man using a traditional method of lynching, authorities maintained that the murder was not a hate crime. The Williams family believes otherwise. Smith worked with data experts from The Guardian to analyze data showing this to be common: victims’ loved ones clearly see racist motives, while law agencies often don’t.

While reporting this story, Smith discovered that this was not the first time that the Williams family had a run-in with the bigotry that courses through American life. Williams' father is pushing for new hate crime laws in Iowa and wants them named after his son.

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