port of harlem magazine

November 2 - November 15, 2007


Bill in U.S. Senate for Housing Racist Murders

A bill to hunt and find racists who killed some of those involved in the Civil Rights Movement and others before 1969 is now in the U.S. Senate after passing the House 422-2 this summer.  The two representatives voting against the bill were presidential candidate John Paul (R-TX) and Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA).  The chief Senate sponsor is presidential candidate Christopher Dodd (D-CT). Only two presidential candidates are cosponsoring the bill:   Barack Obama (D-IL) and Joseph Biden (D-DE).

Emmett TillThe House version, H.R. 923, authorizes $10 million annually for fiscal years 2008 - 2017 for the U.S. Justice Department to hire special investigators to work on solving civil rights crimes dating back before 1969 including that of Booker T. Mixon of Clarksdale, MS and Emmett Till of Chicago, IL.

In 1959, Mixon’s body was found lying on side on a road.  Police claimed it was a hit-and-run, though family members cited his naked body and the extensive amount of flash torn from his body as evidence of murder.  Till’s body was found in the Mississippi River with a cotton gin tied to his neck. 

Alvin Sykes, of Kansas City, MO and president of the Emmett Till Justice Campaign, is the primary force behind the cold case bill.  If the bill passes, "the bill will be the engine for the most comprehensive criminal manhunt ever in this country," he told the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

While some of the most notorious crimes took place in a district now represented by Bennie Thompson (D-MS), the chief sponsor of the House bill was John Lewis (D-GA).  “I’d like to thank my dear friend and colleague, Mr. Lewis of Georgia for leading the effort,” said Thompson.   “The first step toward erasing the injustices that have haunted the families of the victims is to, as a nation, acknowledge the resolve these unsolved murders.”

Photo:  Emmett Till alive and in casket.

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