Home Crime 4 Years After Black Man Was Beaten to Death over Selfie, Parents Hope Justice Is Finally Around the Corner – PEOPLE

4 Years After Black Man Was Beaten to Death over Selfie, Parents Hope Justice Is Finally Around the Corner – PEOPLE

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4 Years After Black Man Was Beaten to Death over Selfie, Parents Hope Justice Is Finally Around the Corner – PEOPLE

Over the past four and a half years, Phil and Jill Henderson have struggled to move on from the death of their middle child.
"It's been a lot of highs, but mostly lows trying to process the grief," Jill told CBS Mornings co-host Gayle King in an interview that aired Thursday.
In 2017, the couple's 22-year-old son, Bakari — a recent college graduate from Austin, Texas — was fatally beaten by a mob while visiting Greece to take photos promoting his fashion line.
According to local authorities, the altercation began after a waitress at a bar in Zakynthos asked to take a selfie with Bakari. A Serbian man who witnessed the selfie asked the woman why she'd want a photo with a Black man when "there are a lot of Serbs in the bar." He then punched Bakari.
The argument escalated, which resulted in several men chasing Bakari into the street, where he was surrounded and beaten to death in just 30 seconds. The entire incident was caught on surveillance video.
"Somebody getting beaten to death over a selfie? It just makes no sense," said Jill, who still hasn't brought herself to watch the footage. "It's very hard to imagine that people would have that much hate to do something [like that] to another human being."
RELATED: Video Emerges of Fatal Beating of American Tourist in Greece
Nine men arrested in connection with the deadly assault were charged with intentional homicide, which carries a life sentence in Greece. In 2018, six of them were found guilty of lesser assault charges and three were acquitted.
None of the men were convicted of murder.
"I don't think they view us Black people the same as they do white people over there," Phil said, "and I felt that in the trial and in the results of the trial, that they treated and felt like he was less than a man."
"You should not be able to chase a man down and beat him to death and then not go to jail and serve jail time," Jill said.
The Hendersons found a small glimmer of hope after the 2018 trial when the prosecutor involved in the case, feeling like the defendants got off too easy, ordered a retrial to try securing homicide convictions a second time. Greece does not have double jeopardy laws like the United States, meaning people can be prosecuted for the same crime more than once.
The new trial has been pushed off for two years, and is now scheduled to begin Feb. 21. Phil and Jill are preparing to travel to Greece for a fifth time to attend court proceedings, even though they are held entirely in Greek.
RELATED: Parents of Black American Killed by Mob in Greece Speak on Long Road to Justice in New Gayle King Interview
"I just truly hope this time that they really view Bakari as a child of God and the human that he is … as someone that could be their brother, their son, their grandson, their nephew, their friend," Jill said. "I really want them to be able to understand that when they're doing the sentencing this time."
"If [his attackers] only got to know him, they would've loved him," Phil said.
King tells PEOPLE that the Hendersons have been living "in limbo" while they wait for closure — "they haven't even unpacked his bag from Greece," she says.
In the meantime, though, they are doing their best to keep their son's dreams alive.
"Bakari loved to travel, he loved meeting people," King says. "He didn't meet a stranger." Through The Bakari Foundation, his parents help families who have suffered a loss find healing and peace by seeing the world.
They also helped take over his clothing line. "He always told me I was going to be working for him," Jill told King, "so we laugh now because we are working for him full-time."
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Like the tragic cases of Natalee Holloway and Gabby Petito that captured the world's attention, King thinks everyone should know the name Bakari Henderson.
"This kid was the type of person that you would want to be your child," King says. "Whether he was Black or he was white, you just like [him]."
King has worn a purple bracelet in honor of Bakari every day since she first met his parents in 2017. "I intend to wear it until they get justice in the case," she tells PEOPLE.
Watch the full CBS Mornings interview with Phil and Jill below.

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