Culture Magazine

Justice

By Jobsanger
Justice The three young men pictured on the left are American heroes. Their names are James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner. In the summer of 1964, they were in Mississippi to help African-Americans register to vote in that state -- a very dangerous thing to do in the South at that time.
Unfortunately, they had to give their lives for to get voting rights for their fellow American citizens. They were murdered by racist klansmen that summer and buried in an earthen dam. After a prolonged investigation, the FBI found their bodies. They charged 8 klansmen with the crime. Seven of them were convicted, but none served more than six years in jail (to the eternal shame of this country).
The eighth klansman was Edgar Ray "Preacher" Killen, and he escaped justice for 41 years because of a hung jury. But in 2005, the state of Mississippi again charged him with murder. The jury found him guilty of manslaughter, but fortunately he received a proper sentence -- 60 years in prison.
Killen has been appealing his conviction, while serving his sentence in a Mississippi state prison. His lawyers have claimed that his trial lawyers didn't represent his interests sufficiently, and that the huge time gap prevented him from receiving a fair trial. Both the trial judge and the appeals court rejected those arguments, and upheld his prison sentence.
Killen's appeal finally made it to the United States Supreme Court -- and last Monday that court refused to hear the case. That means the appeals court decision will stand, and Killen (now 88 years old) will spend the rest of his miserable racist life in prison. In my opinion, that's exactly what he deserves -- to die in prison.
Nothing can be done about the others. If any are still living, they are protected by the "double jeopardy" provision of the Constitution. But Monday's Supreme Court decision means Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner have finally been assured of at least some justice. May they never be forgotten. Their sacrifice helped to change this nation for the better.

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