Legislation Calls for Probe of Civil Rights Crimes

By Russell, Malik | The Crisis, November/December 2005 | Go to article overview

Legislation Calls for Probe of Civil Rights Crimes


Russell, Malik, The Crisis


In June 1964, three civil rights workers - James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and_Michael Schwerner were reported missing after traveling to Mississippi to volunteer with a summer voter registration campaign. On July 12 of that year, authorities combed the Mississippi River in search of the three young men, but instead discovered the bodies of Charles Moore and Henry Dee, two African American men who had been missing since that May.

The two men had been hitchhiking when they were allegedly abducted by Ku Klux Klansmen. They were taken into the woods, beaten and thrown into the Mississippi River alive. Their bodies had been weighted down with an engine block.

"I was mad, angry, sad," says Thomas Moore, Charles's brother. "I wanted to get revenge."

Two people were arrested, but released on a $5,000 bond. More than 40 years later, no one has ever been tried for the murders of Charles Moore and Henry Dee. It is among the many unsolved murders that occurred during the tumultuous Civil Rights Movement. A new bill in Congress, however, seeks to right these wrongs.

The Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act proposes to create an office within the U.S. Justice Department to focus solely on unsolved civil rights crimes. The legislation, sponsored by Sens. Jim Talent (R-Mo.) and Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), would authorize up to $5 million annually for the new section.

"The only way that the victims and the victims' families can get closure is if we as a nation can begin to heal by seeking the truth and not turning away from it," says Talent. "The people who are responsible for these crimes, many of them are still out there. They're a lot older, but still out there."

Since 1989, nearly 30 unsolved civil rights murders have been reopened. …

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