That's how Diane Nash put it this past Sunday at the 41st Annual James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner Memorial Service, which I attended in Neshoba County, Mississippi (more on the service coming soon...). Ms. Nash has a real knack for stating the truth of things. I've been asking repeatedly, Why only Killen? But it is really more to the point to ask, Why is Mississippi protecting white, racist murderers? If you've been following the news on the trial at all, you know that the jury is deadlocked, 6-6. There is a whole lot to say in the why is Mississippi protecting racist murderers department about how the case has been pursued, but this bit from a recent article (via The Arkansas Delta Peace And Justice Center) about the deadlocked jury also speaks volumes:
"These people, and I'm not just talking about the jurors but just about everyone involved in this case, are acting like they have non-refundable tickets for a cruise later in the week and they don't intend to let a murder trial get in the way of their travel plans," CBS News Legal Analyst Andrew Cohen said.
"I have never seen a case seem so rushed as this one as been," Cohen added. "From the 15-minute opening statements to the jury coming back after only a few hours and declaring themselves deadlock. There is a reason they call it 'deliberations.' It is supposed to be a slow, thoughtful process. Not a rush for the doors.
"If this isn't the quickest deadlock in legal history it's got to be close."
The same article also provides a handy contrast between the image Philadelphia, MS is trying to promote about itself by having this trial and the reality of what still exists there:
"That's not the Neshoba County I know," Duncan said in contrasting today's community with the violence and hatred of 1964. "People here don't treat people that way."
Prosecutors said that while there was no testimony putting the murder weapon in Killen's hands, the evidence showed he was a Klan organizer and had played a personal role in preparations the day of the murders.
"He was in the Klan and he was a leader," Attorney General Jim Hood said.
Killen was tried in 1967 along with several others on federal charges of violating the victims' civil rights. The all-white jury deadlocked in Killen's case, with one juror saying later she could not convict a preacher. Seven others were convicted but none served more than six years.
The defense rested Monday after a former mayor testified that the Klan was a "peaceful organization." Harlan Majure, who was mayor of this Mississippi town in the 1990s, said Killen was a good man and that the part-time preacher's Klan membership would not change his opinion.
Majure said the Klan "did a lot of good up here" and said he was not personally aware of the organization's bloody past.
"As far as I know it's a peaceful organization," Majure said. His comment was met with murmurs in the packed courtroom.
Between the time when I started this post and when I'm finishing it now, the Killen verdict came in: guilty on three counts of manslaughter, not murder. That is, he is guilty of kidnapping them and that they died after they were kidnapped, not for murdering with intent. As both Ben Chaney and Rita Schwerner Bender said in the news conference that I caught on TV, it is a significant first step that Killen has been convicted and held responsible for Chaney, Schwerner and Goodman's deaths, and for that I am happy. But it is only a small first step.