From the Office of State Senator Rodney Ellis

For Immediate Release
August 24, 1999
Contact: Jeremy Warren, (512) 463-0113

"Justice has been served."
Statement Of Senator Rodney Ellis

AUSTIN// --"As someone who has historically wrestled with how the death penalty is applied in Texas, I am pleased with the verdict and sentence in this case. It was swift, severe and appropriate under the laws of the state of Texas. The perpetrators of the most vicious hate murder of the post civil rights era deserve the maximum sentence allowed under the law. While nothing can ease the pain of the Byrd family, I believe all Texans can feel that justice has been served."

"But make no mistake, sentencing Lawrence Russell Brewer to death does not mean that Texas is doing enough to prevent hate crimes. In addition to the horrific murder of Mr. Byrd, there were over 300 additional hate crimes reported in Texas last year. We need strong laws that send a signal that acts of hate will not be tolerated. We can send a signal to hatemongers that hate has no place in Texas by passing a strong, clear hate crimes law that enhances the penalty on acts motivated by hate, whether the victim is targeted because of their race, religion, gender, disability or sexual orientation. That's why I intend to file the James Byrd, Jr. Act again next session."