To: National Desk
Contact: Candace Sandy of the Office of Rep. Gregory W. Meeks, 718-949-5600
ST. ALBANS, N.Y., April 13 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Rep. Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY) released the following statement today:
"Thanks to the daring research by Keith A. Beauchamp, a documentary film maker from Brooklyn, and his colleague, Kenneth P. Thompson, a former federal prosecutor, new evidence has been uncovered in relation to the brutal, unsolved and unresolved murder of Emmitt Till nearly 50 years ago. While making his documentary on the life and times of the 14 year old Till who was kidnaped, mutilated, and murdered while on a visit to family in Mississippi, Mr. Beauchamp came across eyewitness accounts that have never been heard in a court of law.
"Emmitt Till's murder back in 1955, is an unclosed, unhealed wound that haunts the conscience of our nation. The pictures of Emmitt Till's remains sears the consciousness of all those who have seen the photos. Americans of good will who came to maturity in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s have never forgotten the inhumanity of the methods Emmitt Till's murderers employed. Americans born in later generations cannot escape the revulsion and horror in voices and on the face of their parents and grandparents when they recount this awful deed -- nor, their anger over the continuing lack of justice. I can remember the pain on faces and the anger in the voices of my parents."
Emphasis added. That's from a press release from, as noted, April 13th.
The Justice Department said Monday it is reopening the investigation into the 1955 murder of Emmitt Till, a teenager whose death while visiting Mississippi was an early catalyst for the civil rights movement.
[. . .] Pictures of the slaying shocked the world. Two white men charged with murder - Roy Bryant and his half brother, J.W. Milam - were acquitted by an all-white jury. Both men have since died.
Justice Department officials did not say what prompted them to reopen the case. Details of the renewed investigation, which also involves officials in Mississippi, were to be announced Monday by R. Alexander Acosta, assistant attorney general for civil rights.
Again, emphasis added. I expect they'll describe the "new evidence" found while making the documentary.
Emmett's mother, Mamie Till Mobley, passed away back in 2003:
Though [Roy] Bryant confessed to the lynching in an interview with Look magazine, both men were acquitted by an all-white Mississippi jury.
Mrs. Mobley became a teacher and reading specialist for the Chicago Public Schools from 1961 to 1983. In 1973 she also founded the Emmett Till Players, a civil-rights-related youth theater group. On Dec. 8, Mrs. Mobley attended an event organized by the Murder Victim Families for Reconciliation to call on Gov. Ryan to commute death penalty sentences in Illinois.
"She saw the death penalty as a modern extension to what was done to her son and to blacks in the South in the 1950s. She characterized it as legal lynching,'' said Jennifer Bishop-Jenkins, head of the national board of Murder Victim Families for Reconciliation and a Northfield resident.
More emphasis. Sorry. Nervous habit.
No, not nervous. Fucking pissed off.
I just have an odd feeling any right-wingers proclaiming this as proof of anything -- other than a cynical election-year ploy by a president who got less than 10% of the black vote last time around -- aren't going to mention that whole opposed to the death penalty thing.
Sorry, in addition to the election year thing, there's possibly the hope that re-running those grisly photos will take people's minds off the ones coming out of Iraq.
Guess I could look for contact info on Congressman Meeks' site and ask him what the point was, but this would involve not pointing out that they spelled 'Emmett' wrong in their press release. Then again, so did AP.
Update: But the New York Times didn't.
Two men were acquitted by an all-white jury, but for years family members and journalists who have reported on the case have said that other people may have been involved as well.
"If indeed others are implicated and they can be identified, they can still be prosecuted," R. Alexander Acosta, assistant attorney general for civil rights, said at a news conference this morning. "While the five-year federal statute of limitations in effect in 1955 has since expired, prosecution can still be brought in state court."
Mr. Acosta said that justice department has formed a partnership with federal prosecutors, the F.B.I. and local law enforcement officials to begin a new investigation of the murder. Their findings will form the basis of any new prosecutions.
[. . .] In the mid-1990's, long after the trail had grown cold, a young documentarian named Keith Beauchamp started to make a film about the case. He interviewed several potential witnesses, including one who was jailed in another city at the time of the trial to keep investigators from calling him to the stand.
Mr. Beauchamp has asserted that there were actually 10 people — several of them still alive, he said — present at the murder. Family members and members of Congress have urged the federal government to investigate this case, just as it has several other civil rights murders that were committed decades ago but were solved only recently.
Perhaps I'm missing something.
Statute of limitations on what?
They also have another AP article, U.S. to Reopen Investigation of Emmett Till's Murder in 1955:
R. Alexander Acosta, assistant attorney general for civil rights, said a recent public television documentary about the killing and other new information brought to the Justice Department's attention suggests that additional people still alive were involved in the killing.
``This brutal murder and grotesque miscarriage of justice outraged a nation and helped galvanize support for the modern American civil rights movement,'' Acosta said. ``We owe it to Emmett Till, and we owe it to ourselves, to see whether after all these years some additional measure of justice remains possible.''
The five-year statute of limitations in effect at the time on any federal charges has long since expired but a state case could still be brought, Acosta said. The FBI and Justice Department prosecutors will work on the investigation with Joyce Chiles, district attorney for Mississippi's 4th Judicial District.
[. . .] The NAACP and other individuals and groups have called repeatedly for reopening the case, which has been the subject of documentary films and books. In a 2003 letter to Mississippi officials, NAACP President Kweisi Mfume said it was ``time to address what remains an ugly mark'' in state and U.S. history.
Oh. General statute of limitations. That's. . . bizarre.
And at least some of the suspects are still around. And at least in their 60s. One hopes they're at least in their 60s.
And since there have been calls to reopen the case for a while, perhaps I shouldn't assume that just because this announcement was made a politically convenient time. . .
Wait, that's right. Bush and company. They've not only given one fucking reason to give them the benefit of the doubt, they've gone out of their way to give reasons not to.
In 1956, Look magazine published an account of the slaying in which Milam admitted that he and Bryant did the killing, which occurred a few days after Till purportedly whistled at a white girl in a store.
``'Chicago boy,' I said, 'I'm tired of them sending your kind down here to stir up trouble,''' Milam was quoted as saying. ``I'm going to make an example of you, just so everybody can know how me and my folks stand.''
Milam said he beat Till and shot him in the head with a .45-caliber pistol, then tied a heavy metal fan to the body and dumped it in the river.
And I'm not sure where to begin with admitting to a murder in a magazine interview. And getting away with it.