Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Justice Delayed. KKK Murderer Convicted Of...Manslaughter...

Edgar Ray Killen, cowardly KKK murderer, was convicted today of manslaughter in the case in which three men, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner were murdered in 1964. Excerpts from the San Luis Obispo Tribune:

PHILADELPHIA, Miss. - (KRT) - On the 41st anniversary of the murders of three young civil rights workers, a jury on Tuesday convicted an 80-year-old former Ku Klux Klan leader of manslaughter, closing another chapter in the country's sordid past of racial violence that has hovered over generations.

Edgar Ray Killen took a deep breath then sat expressionless as the judge pronounced him guilty of orchestrating the slayings of Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman, who were beaten and shot to death the night of June 21, 1964, on a rural road a short distance from Killen's house. Their bodies were found 44 days later in an earthen dam.

Though the jury declined to find Killen guilty of murder, which would have carried an automatic life sentence, many people who have lived most of their lives in and around this small town found solace in the manslaughter verdict, which could land Killen in state prison for up to 20 years on each of the three counts. The conviction most likely means that Killen will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Manslaughter. That's when you accidentally kill someone in a car accident for Christ's sake. This was a goddamned murder. I only hope the assholes who covered the Michael Jackson trial and harassed those jurors will do likewise for the panel that decided this was real justice. Nancy Grace and her ilk are more concerned with punishing a celebrity, but will likely remain unconcerned about the fact that Killen probably engineered and participated in more murders during the 41 years he was allowed to live free among humans. That is a tragedy. But don't take my word for it. Read what the wife of Michael Schwerner had to say:

In finding Killen guilty of manslaughter, the jury of three African Americans and nine whites rejected the prosecutors' claim that Killen intended to cause the men's deaths. The manslaughter charge, which was added toward the end of the trial, gave the panel the option of finding him guilty of orchestrating the attack, which ended in what could have been unintentional murders.

Rita Schwerner Bender, who was married to Schwerner and had traveled with him to the South that summer, said the conviction is an important first step in bringing recognition to the many people who gave their lives helping others.
"The window is open, but the light has not come through completely. That some members of the jury could sit there and not see that this was murder with malice is an indicator that there are still people who unfortunately choose to look aside and not see the truth," said Bender, an attorney in Seattle. "This means there is a lot more work to be done."

Bender said it remains a sad fact that national and international attention has been focused on the story because two of the three men - Schwerner and Goodman - were white. "No attention would have been given to others who were so badly treated," she said. "That means race is still an important factor in this country."

I can't state it any clearer than Ms. Bender has. When the fuck are we going to wake up in this country?

Full story: http://www.sanluisobispo.com/mld/sanluisobispo/news/nation/11950016.htm

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