Depicted in a 1988 movie and subject of many journals, references, and publications, the Mississippi Burning, otherwise known as the United States vs. Cecil price et. al. case, has been one of the most famous trials in the country.
Mississippi Burning revolves around the murder of three civil rights activists in Mississippi, 1964. The victims were Michael Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andy Goodman. The three were in Mississippi to visit the bombed Mt. Zion church, one among the series of twenty black churches bombed on Summer, 1964. In this visit, June 21 of that year, the three were arrested and illegally detained by Deputy Sheriff Cecil Price. It was also Price who turned the three over to the Ku Klux Klan, in a scripted “release” for the three with the KKK. The bodies of the three, beaten and shot, were found in a dam almost two months after on August 4. (Mississippi Burning Trial: A Chronology, n.d.)
The Ku Klux Klan
Racists, terrorists, anti-Semitists—the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) have been called many names from their conception in the 1800s.
The Klan started out as a group promoting white supremacy. From their beginnings, they have used terrorism, intimidation, and cross burning against African Americans. While they were successfully suppressed, the KKK has found itself reincarnated by modern followers in the 1920s. This second KKK was also suppressed, but was revived when the Civil Rights Movement was activated in the 1960s.
The 60s found the Ku Klux Klan of Mississippi associated with crimes against the civil rights activists, most especially in favor of the Black people.
The Ku Klux Klan were found guilty, in federal records, for the assassination of Medgar Evers in 1963, as well as in the well-known trial against Cecil Price for the KKK murder of Schwerner, Chaney, and Goodman. The series of bombings of black churches were also accounted to the members of the KKK. Cross burnings throughout this period was also rampant. (Mississippi Burning Trial: A Chronology, n.d.)
According to The Ku Klux Klan (n.d.), the most prominent KKK movement in the 60s was the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, founded by Robert Shelton, who was reported to have heavily employed lynching (mob killing) to discourage black people from voting, in contrary to the Mississippi Summer Project encouraging blacks to vote. Schools, homes and white people supporting the movement have also been victimized by the KKK’s lynching and other forms of intimidation.
This acts of intimidation, murder, assassination, manslaughter, and were not “invented” by the 1960’s KKK of Mississippi. Rather, they are renditions of the original KKK’s acts in the 1800s.
The FBI and the 1960’s Racist Violence
Behind the successes and failures of the racial discrimination cases in the 1960s, most especially in the South, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) plays a big role. The same case goes in a much publicized case as that of the Mississippi Burning, which interrelates several different racism cases of burning, murder, and civil rights infringements in Mississippi into one highly sensationalized court proceeding. The FBI, though, uses no special means in investigating racist violence at the time. In fact, FBI has had secrets of its own.
Glick (n.d.) asserts that the FBI has its way of infiltrating movements in the 1960s, including black movements. In his text, Glick suggests that the FBI has COINTELPRO or counter intelligence program which uses otherwise illegal means of investigation such as infiltration, deception, and harassment to dissolve movements. The main targets were said to be Black movements. Thus, police racism has been existent. There is no known concrete relation between the COINTELPRO and the Mississippi Burning case, however.
Could the FBI have done more?
1960s was a period without the present technology that FBI enjoys. FBI investigators had standard procedures to follow, and there is no concrete evidence that they infringed any of these procedures. The Mississippi Burning case was one that has been trialed by the public before the court. Everybody knew who were guilty. Everybody believed Cecil Price and the KKK were to be convicted. That, then the evidences and witnesses affirmed. Thus, the FBI was sufficient and efficient in this respect.
However, there are many other cases racism violence and civil rights violation, most of which were not publicized. The FBI has been passive in dealing with these cases. Police racism existed, and if it were true the COINTELPRO worsened the events. The FBI could have devised a special plan to implement anti-racism violence statutes to support the Civil Rights Movement that was active at that time, as it was no ordinary time. Then, it will be known that the FBI has done enough.
Glick, B. (n.d.) COINTELPRO revisited: spying and disruption. Retrieved July 20, 2006, from http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/RANCHO/POLITICS/COINTELPRO/cointelpro-methods.html
Ku Klux Klan, The. (n.d.) Ku Klux Klan. Retrieved July 20, 2006, from
Mississippi Burning Trial. (n.d.) Mississippi Burning Trial: A Chronology. Retrieved July 20, 2006, from http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/price&bowers/miss_chrono.html
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