News, thoughts and comments on civil rights and related issues.
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
News: "Preacher" Killen convicted of manslaughter
A local court has found Edgar Ray Killen, a sawmill owner and minister, guilty in the deaths of three civil rights workers killed in Philadelphia, Miss., in 1964. The murder charges were the first ever brought in the case by local officials. A federal court convicted seven of 18 defendants of civil rights violations in 1965. None of them served more than six years in prison. Killen was acquitted because a holdout on the all-white jury said she could not vote to convict a minister.
The New York Times reports on Killen's last day as a free man.
I am glad to see "Preacher" Killen finally face a measure of justice. However, I believe he should have been convicted of murder. When a person arranges to have graves dug for his intended victims, his intention is not to merely to assault them, but to kill them. Killen had graves dug and waiting, along with bulldozer operators who covered the hole in the earthen dam in which the young men were buried. Rita Bender, the widow of Michael Schwerner, says that though she is relieved by the conviction of Killen for manslaughter, she believes it is, in part, an evasion of the truth.
I agree. New York Times reporter Joseph Lelyveld learned why accepting the idea that the killings are murders is difficult for white residents when he visited the small Southern town in 1965.
Perhaps the white jurors actually believe there was not enough evidence to convince Killen of murder. They're wrong. There was.posted by J. | 10:20 PM