FBI reopens cold cases from civil rights era
Federal investigators are re-examining 43 decades-old unsolved killings in Mississippi during the civil rights years of the 1950s and ’60s. At least six of them are southwest Mississippi cases, the FBI announced Thursday. Among those cases is the Oct. 13, 1961, death of Eli Brumfield, who reportedly was shot dead by a McComb police officer who claimed self-defense and said Brumfield had pulled a knife on him after a traffic stop.
In February 2006, the FBI began to examine all unsolved fatal hate crimes that occurred before 1970. Federal, state and local law enforcement partners, as well as community leaders and civic organizations, provided information on unsolved violent crimes from the civil rights era.
Funding for the investigations comes from the Emmitt Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act, which was signed into law in 2007. [snip]
Another case being re-examined is the Aug. 14, 1959, ambush slaying of Samuel O’Quinn of Centreville.
According to an Aug. 17, 1959, Enterprise-Journal article headlined “Slain Negro Believed Killed By Own Race,” then-Wilkinson County Sheriff J.T. Falkenheimer told reporters after the killing that a group of black Wilkinson County residents had written an unsigned letter threatening O’Quinn days before the killing.The former sheriff said the letter claimed O’Quinn was a target for participating in NAACP-related activities.
Years later, the letter’s authenticity is questionable.
The 1959 newspaper article stated, “The letter said in effect that Negroes of Wilkinson County were ‘well satisfied,’ that they had the finest schools in the South, that they had no desire to associate with the white people, and wanted to be ‘left alone.’ It added that Wilkinson County Negroes wanted nothing to do with the NAACP ... and urged the organization to ‘stay out.’ ”
I don't know if the investigations will result in bringing justice to the murderers. These crimes are in some cases over 50 years old. Evidence will be hard to come by. Many of the people involved are dead.
But, still, it is time. It is long since time. The families of the dead deserve the closure that can only come with the truth.