Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Finally Justice in Philadelphia

Today a criminal jury broke a 6-6 deadlock and convicted former Ku Klux Klan member Edgar Ray Killen for killing Civil Rights workers James Chaney, 21, Andrew Goodman, 20 and Michael Schwerner, 24 in Philadelphia, Mississippi 41 years ago during the Freedom Summer.

Finally, Mr. Chaney, Mr. Goodman and Mr. Schwerner can rest in peace and their families can take some solace in the fact that justice delayed was not justice denied.

The justice dispensed today may disappoint some since the jury returned 3 guilty counts of manslaughter instead of murder. But with 20 possible years per count the verdict is all but a death sentence for the unrepentant frail 80 year man who came and left the courtroom everyday in a wheelchair. Today Edgar Ray Killen will leave in that wheelchair and roll into prison probably never to see the light of day as a free man again.

He has unconscionably been a free man for 41 years and escaped conviction in 1967 when an all white jury "surprisingly" deadlocked. But as a minister Mr. Killen should know that the Lord moves in mysterious ways and the movement today is toward a penitentiary in Mississippi where he will justly spend the rest of his life.

Since he spent most of his life espousing hate and hiding from justice, it is ironic that a racial mixed jury of 9 whites and 3 African Americans would make sure that justice was done, finally.