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GREENWOOD, Dist. – Two White men have been sentenced to federal prison for their roles in a racial hate crime that rocked the community of Shawnee, Oklahoma – a small town 42 minutes east of Oklahoma City. This incident, which took place in a state with a history of racial violence against Black citizens, resulted in the brutal assault of Deshawn Carolina, a Black man, outside the Brickhouse Saloon in the early morning hours of June 22, 2019. 

The Assault and Perpetrators

Brandon Wayne Killian, 32, and Devan Nathanial Johnson, 29, were both sentenced to 10 years in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Bernard M. Jones in the Oklahoma City federal court this week.

Both Killian and Johnson were convicted under the provisions of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which targets crimes motivated by bias against race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability.

The incident, characterized by racial slurs and shouts of “White power!” from the assailants, was captured on a witness’s cell phone video. The footage revealed Killian punching Carolina, causing him to fall unconscious. 

“You’re dead, ni**er!” one of them yelled. 

Shockingly, even after Carolina had fallen, Killian and Johnson continued their assault, viciously punching, kicking, stomping, and spitting on Carolina. 

Two men sentenced to Federal Prison for racial hate crime in Oklahoma
Deshawn Carolina with his two kids.

Impact on Victims and Justice Served

As a result of this brutal attack, Deshawn Carolina, a father of two, was hospitalized. 

Deshawn’s friend, Monty Whittet, was also targeted but did not require medical treatment.

Johnson was sentenced last month and Killian this past Monday, following their guilty pleas. Both had previously faced prosecution in state court for the same incident, with Johnson also being sentenced to additional time for a misdemeanor charge related to threatening an act of violence.

Justice Department’s Commitment to Accountability

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division emphasized the impact of hate crimes on victims, families, and communities in a statement released by the DOJ. 

“These two defendants are being held accountable for subjecting a Black man to a brutal and racially motivated assault,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Convictions like these make clear that the Department of Justice will continue to investigate and prosecute individuals who violently assault others because of their race or the color of their skin.”  

U.S. Attorney Robert Troester for the Western District of Oklahoma echoed this sentiment, emphasizing that “hate-fueled criminal conduct is morally reprehensible and can never be acceptable in a civilized society. We will continue to use every tool at our disposal to combat all hate crimes.” 

FBI Oklahoma City Field Office’s Role 

The FBI Oklahoma City Field Office also played a pivotal role in investigating this case, ensuring that those responsible for racially-motivated violence were held accountable. 

“Violent acts of hate and racism have no place in our community and will not be tolerated,” said Special Agent in Charge Edward J. Gray of the FBI Oklahoma City Field Division. “The FBI will continue to use all authority granted to us by federal law to investigate crimes motivated by bias and ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice.”

As society strives to eradicate hate and promote equality, these convictions serve as a significant step toward justice in a state that’s still reckoning with its history of not holding white vigilantes who commit racial hate crimes against Black Oklahomans accountable. 

The court’s decision to hand down the maximum penalty underscores the gravity of such crimes and the determination to confront them head-on.

Nehemiah D. Frank is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Black Wall Street Times and a descendant of two families that survived the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Although his publication’s store and newsroom...

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