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Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act

Location: Washington DC

UNSOLVED CIVIL RIGHTS CRIME ACT -- (Extensions of Remarks - July 29, 2005)


Mr. FILNER. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to introduce the Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act with Congressman Bennie Thompson. As a former ``Freedom Rider'' in Mississippi during the 1960s, I have seen first hand the need for this bill.

While most are familiar with the recent prosecution of Edgar Ray Killen his participation in the slayings of Civil Rights workers James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, there are many other cases that aren't as well known or remain unsolved, like Emmett Till. These cases need to be investigated.

We as a Congress have a moral obligation to bring justice to the families of these victims. Furthermore, as a society based on laws, we have a responsibility to ensure that criminals don't go unpunished.

This bill creates a special section within the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice to focus specifically on unsolved pre-1970 Civil Rights' homicides. In addition, the bill authorizes up to $5 million annually for this new section, which will provide States assistance with prosecuting Civil Rights era cases that have grown cold over time.

Unlike many other endeavors that have come before this House to address past racial injustice, this bill goes beyond mere rhetoric and ``lip service'' and provides an avenue to actually address Civil Rights' crimes.

Our country has come a long way since the 1960s. For example, seven states, since 1989, have reexamined 29 killings from the Civil Rights era, leading to 27 arrests and 22 convictions. However, as most are aware, there are still many unsolved homicides from that time period. And, while we can't go back in time, we can acknowledge our past transgressions and do our best to work towards correcting them.

``Justice delayed'' is better than ``Justice denied''!

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