Marco McMillian, thought to be one of the first openly gay men to seek political office in Mississippi, was found dead near a levee, yesterday.
McMillian was running for mayor of the town of Clarksdale, a town known for its rich artistic history. (At one point or another it was home to the likes of Sam Cooke and Tennessee Williams.) The AP reports that McMillian was considered to be "a man on the rise."
'"There's a lot of people upset about it,' said Dennis Thomas, 33, who works at Abe's Barbeque.
"'Why would somebody want to do something like that to somebody of that caliber? He was a highly respected person in town,' Thomas said.
"The 34-year-old Democrat wasn't running what many would consider a typical campaign for political office in Mississippi, which is known for its conservative politics.
"Campaign spokesman Jarod Keith said McMillian's campaign was noteworthy because he may have been the first openly gay man to be a viable candidate for public office in the state."
The Clarion Ledger reports that the Coahoma County Sheriff's Department had made an arrest in the case.
The coroner told the paper that "politics likely wasn't a factor in McMillan's death."
Keith, the campaign manager, told the paper that McMillan's sexual orientation "never came up during the campaign."
"We remember Marco as a bold and passionate public servant, whose faith informed every aspect of his life," Keith said in a statement. "Tragically, that life has been cut short."