A Trial that Actually Is Important
Today began the trial of Edgar Ray Killen, alleged member of the Ku Klux Klan gang that murdered three poll workers in Mississippi in 1964. The murders were carried out by at least 19 police officers and KKK members who beat and shot the three men to death for no other reason than that they were advancing the cause of civil rights.
Killen was acquitted of murder at the original trial but has now been charged with orchestrating the murders. According to CNN:
Killen's attorney, James McIntyre, told CNN that the trial marked "a sad day" in state history.
"Mississippi needs to move forward, not backward. This matter was closed some 40 years ago. The state is attempting to open old wounds," McIntyre said.
There’s a reason why there is no statute of limitations on murder. Murder is a wound that never fully heals, and trying a man 40 years past his crime is better than never holding the man to account at all.
And for those who think the past is past, the news story ends:
[A] man identified as J.J. Harper handed out business cards identifying himself as imperial wizard of the American White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, greeted Killen and offered words of encouragement outside the courthouse.
We’ve come a long way since 1964. But clearly there are those who’ve chosen to stay behind. Killen’s trial should serve as a reminder that we the people through the power of our government will not tolerate murder for any reason and particularly not for Killen’s reasons.
I do not know if one murder can be more evil than any other, but if it can, Killen is at the bottom of the list and those who support him are hardly better. This man is 80 now and even should justice be served, he will spend far too little of his life behind bars. But for the families of the victims and for the state of Mississippi, just to brand the man guilty is of real importance.
Justice delayed is still justice served.