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Hate-crime bill backers will show murder film

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Supporters of hate-crime legislation will be showing a Sundance film documenting the brutal murder of a black man in Jasper, Texas, in hopes of building support for a controversial bill on Capitol Hill.

Democratic Sens. Alicia Suazo and David Litvack will join filmmakers Marco Williams and Whitney Dow for a screening of "Two Towns of Jasper." The film documents the 1998 murder of James Byrd Jr., who was chained to a pickup truck in Jasper, Texas, and dragged three miles to his death.

An all-white film crew interviewed the town's white residents and an all-black crew interviewed the town's black residents to capture the differing views between the two sides on Byrd's death.

Suazo and her supporters say they're showing the film in an effort to portray the effect hate crimes have on a community.

The late Sen. Pete Suazo had tried unsuccessfully to pass a more enforceable hate-crimes law the past four years before his death in an ATV accident. A free community screening of the film will be Monday at 6:30 p.m. at Calvary Baptist Church, 1090 S. State. The film will be shown Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. in Room 129 of the Capitol.