Thursday, January 25, 2007

Clarion-Ledger Journalist Makes a Difference

I'm still catching up on this case. But, the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi deserves a LOT OF PRAISE today for what happened in a Mississippi courtroom.

A reputed Ku Klux Klansman accused in the 1964 slayings of two black men pleaded not guilty today.

71-year-old James Ford Seale was arrested yesterday on federal charges of kidnapping and conspiracy.

Prosecutors said Charles Eddie Moore and Henry Hezekiah Dee, both 19, were seized and beaten by Klansmen, then thrown into the Mississippi River to drown. Asked in 2000 if he had anything to do with the crime, Seale replied, "I ain't in jail, am I?"

Tonight he IS in jail. And, reporter Jerry Mitchell is being credited with helping the case through his work as a journalist.

Read more about the background on the case here.

Mitchell was interviewed in a story on tonight's CBS Evening News.

In his only known media interview, Seale in 2000 expressed confidence to The Clarion-Ledger that he would dodge

charges. Asked what he would tell authorities pursuing the case, Seale replied, "Have at me. They don't have any more than you have right now - which is nothing."

Seale blamed the newspaper for talk of reprosecution. "You don't have anything better to do but to stir this stuff up," he said. "You've got to write a story and put a bunch of garbage in it and write a catchy headline so it will sell."

In 2000, the FBI reopened the case after the newspaper reported federal charges were possible since Dee and Moore were beaten in a national forest.

Still following this story. But, it's exciting to see a journalist's work make a major difference in a long-standing civil rights case.

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