So it turns out that the state of Mississippi is no longer racist. Really. Check out the headline:
Ex-KKK Member Convicted in 1964 Killings
So, forty-one years after the crime they finally came up with enough evidence to convict one of the killers! That is great news! Unfortunately that is not the news at all. According to the article the same man was tried for the much lesser crime of violating the civil liberties of the victims in 1967 and walked away without a conviction.
I know this all happened a long time ago, at a point where the south was still pretty pissed off about the abolition of slavery and certainly not ready to treat people of color as equals. I will go one step further to say that I don’t think they are any better today than they were in the ’60s. That being said, you would think that there was some sort of concrete proof in this trial, right? Nope. Most of the people who testified in the ’67 trial are dead so their statements, from the court records in that trial, were the only thing that it took to convince a contemporary jury of his guilt.
The thing that really pisses me off is that the asshole isn’t being put to death, in fact he was not even convicted of murder. Why? It seems that, ” Killen, a bald figure with owlish bifocals, sat impassively in his wheelchair, an oxygen tube up his nose, as he listened to the verdict.” Yeah, he is an old dude, he used to be in the KKK, he killed (or had a hand in killing) three people (two white, one black) but, he is/was a preacher, therefore it never really happened? I guess the jury must have conceded that it did happen but would the charges have been reduced to manslaughter if he happened to be younger, or, heaven forbid, a man of color?
Another wonderful quote comes from some guy that doesn’t live anywhere near Mississippi (like me), but who also doesn’t seem to know the story, “On the one hand, this guy needs to be convicted. And on the other hand, the state needed to present better evidence,” said Paprocki, 54, of Philadelphia. Great sentiment, except that they had all of the evidence when the thing went to trial in 1967, since they had to use the testimony of dead people to get a conviction today.
I am just a bit skeptical about whether Mississippi is really trying to show that they are now an equal races state. If they really are, why didn’t they try the guy again years ago, you know, before he appeared to be a decrepit old man? Do you think that maybe, just maybe, they were figuring that no jury would convict someone in that condition?
Would you, if you are/were (a la Michael Jackson) not white, be comfortable walking down the streets in any town in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia or the rest of the deeply racist states after dark? I for one know that I wouldn’t be. Hell, I might not even be safe since I am 1/4 Native American, makes for darker skin you know.
As George W. Bush would likely say, “God bless America, and all the white people who live here.”