Prosecutors Pursue Overlooked Racial Injustices


After a Mississippi grand jury indicted the 80-year-old Edgar Ray Killen in January for the killings of three civil rights workers in 1964, his trial was described as the last in a series of reckonings over the unpunished wrongs of the era. But just when the dredging up of the past was supposed to be ending, it seems to have begun in earnest, reports the New York Times. Prosecutors, politicians and the descendants of victims are digging at ever more obscure cases, calling for re-examinations even when the cases have been reviewed before, or when the prime suspects are long dead.

Since Killen’s conviction in June, the United States attorney in Mississippi has announced that he will review the 1964 slayings of Henry Hezekiah Dee and Charles Eddie Moore, two young hitchhikers, and the fatal 1967 car bombing in Natchez of Wharlest Jackson, who had been promoted to a traditionally whites-only job. In Florida, Gov. Jeb Bush has ordered a review of the case of Johnnie Mae Chappell, a black maid killed in a drive-by shooting during a race riot in 1964, and the state attorney general has offered a $25,000 reward for information about the deaths of Harry T. and Harriette V. Moore, whose house was bombed in 1951 after Moore helped blacks register to vote. A bill in Congress would set aside money for investigations of old civil rights cases.


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