From: Benjamin Greenberg
To: Bobby Pepper
Date: Jun 11, 2005 10:08 PM
Subject: Open Letter To Leesha Faulkner, re: "Deep in my heart I do believe there is justice"
Bobby Pepper, Online Editor, Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal
Open Letter To Leesha Faulkner, re: "Deep in my heart I do believe there is justice," Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, June 6, 2005, section A, page 2
Dear Ms. Faulkner,
I read your article on Susan Glisson of the Winter Center with great interest, since, like you, I believe that there must be justice for James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman. In order to achieve justice it is essential to know the truth. In the spirit of truth and justice, I would like to offer three corrections to your article.
1) You state that "Glisson pushed and pulled and tugged with a local multi-racial coalition until the powers in the state had no choice but to put up." This assertion about the Philadelphia Coalition is counter to how the Coalition defines itself: "Although the Coalition has been characterized by the media as pushing for the prosecution of the accused man, Edgar Ray Killen, leaders point out they simply made a call for justice and have not sought to address the guilt or innocence of individuals or in any way become involved with the investigation or the upcoming trial" (Neshoba Democrat, "Coalition stresses its non-activist role," April 6, 2005)
Furthermore, in the same Neshoba Democrat article, Leroy Clemons, co-chairman of the Coalition, states that "the call for justice has been answered." Nothing could be further from the truth. The indictment of Edgar Ray Killen is only a small first step in the pursuit of justice: There are at least eight other living suspects. And there was a Mississippi state spy agency, the Sovereignty Commission, which provided the Klan with intelligence, like the license plate number of the car Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner were driving on June 21, 1964.
I was surprised, Ms. Faulkner, because I thought you had a broader understanding of the Neshoba murders case. In 1994, when you interviewed Reverend Clinton Collier [PDF] for the Mississippi Oral History Program, you discussed the Neshoba murders and asked him, "You think some others should have been arrested." Reverend Collier replied, "Many more. Olen Burrage, they found that on his place, and I've been reminiscing over that a long time. Why in the world didn't they do something with that guy?... He knew something.... I don't see how come the family can't sue the hell out of him. He's a rich man."
2) You speak as if the pursuit of justice for Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner began just last year, with the formation of the Philadelphia Coalition. In fact, long before Susan Glisson, James Prince III and Leroy Clemons and other Coalition members made their non-committal call for justice in 2004, there were others working tirelessly for truth and a larger justice than the one the Coalition stands for. It strikes me as genuinely odd that you would talk about quests for justice in this case without a single mention of any of the parties who were directly affected, many of whom demand the larger justice I speak of. Three people come to mind quickly: Ben Chaney, brother of James; John Steele, Neshoba County native and member of the Longdale community whose Mt. Zion Church was burned by the Klan on June 16, 1964; and Jerry Mitchell, whose reporting on civil rights era murders has brought important evidence to light and kept the Neshoba murders and other cases in the public eye with his many articles.
3) In your telling of the story of the murders, you state: "Three guys, civil rights workers, go to investigate a church burning. They have a flat. Then, the Neshoba County sheriff's deputy pulls them over." This is not correct. Chaney, Schwerner and Goodman got their flat tire while they were already being pursued by Deputy Sheriff Cecil Price. This may seem like splitting hairs, but the way you tell it, it was Cecil Price's good fortune that he happened to come upon the three young civil rights workers while they were changing their tire. In fact, he was pursuing their car because he had recognized the license plate number, which he knew from Sovereignty Commission intelligence reports, which were also forwarded to the likes of Senator James O. Eastland.
Why only Killen, Ms. Faulkner? What kind of justice is that?