Mississippi Smoldering

The Edgar Ray Killen trial jury is now in it’s second day of deliberations. I think I expected a longer time spent introducing evidence and building the case. I know I didn’t expect hearing that the jury, at the end of the first day of deliberations, after only two hoursa of deliberating, would tell the judge they were deadlocked 6-6. I expected a conviction. I think most Mississippians have long assumed that Edgar Ray Killen was guilty of, at the least, significant involvement in the deaths of Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney. 41 years ago today, those three young men were brutally murdered by a group of criminals. Mississippi tried for many years to ignore that. Now, many believe that too much time has passed, that you shouldn’t dig it back up. I wonder, however, if it had been three young white Mississippi girls killed by a mob on that day, would those same people be so willing to let the past slide. We in the South, who seem to so desparately cling to our “heritage”, don’t seem to be so interested in the parts of our history that don’t involve plantations, Southern Belles, and the peculiar sense of “honor” that allowed wealthy southern men to spend their time being honorable while slaves created and maintained their wealth. But that’s beside the point here, I’ve engaged in that other Southern habit of rambling. The one thing, as I said, that I didn’t expect was another hung jury. So far, the national reaction to this trial has been mostly positive. But last night, as I listened to the news of the deadlocked jury, I had a sense of foreboding, of the image of Mississippi crashing back four decades as the nation says “see, we knew nothing had changed”.

June 21, 2005 В· Harry В· Comments Closed
Posted in: Mississippi