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KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner
from http://kateraedavis.com/2016/07/04/liberty-and-justice/

Growing up as Americans, we are taught to expect liberty and justice for all. Like many things that we absorb, we later learned that that expectation is a goal, but not necessarily a reality.

James E. Chaney, 21, Andrew Goodman, 21, and Michael Schwerner, 24, believed that an active involvement in the civil rights movement was more important than simply calling for change. The three men were in Mississippi as part of the Freedom Summer project to help register the disenfranchised black voters.

On June 20, 1964, The NY Times reported that “Night riders struck Neshoba County in north-central Mississippi Tuesday when a Negro church was surrounded by armed white men, most of them masked. Three Negroes attending a church board meeting were beaten and were chased away. A short time later the church went up in flames.”

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

KKK Killings

On June 21,  Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner went to investigate the burning.

Police arrested them on speeding charges, incarcerated them for several hours, and then released them after dark into the hands of the Ku Klux Klan, who murdered them near Philadelphia, Mississippi.

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

June 23, 1964: the Neshoba Democrat reported that: “The car driven by three integrationists who disappeared after being arrested last Sunday night here has been found by Federal Bureau of Investigation officers about 13 miles from Philadelphia, in the northeast corner of Neshoba County. The car, a 1963 or 1964 Ford station wagon, was located in heavy sweetgum growth on Highway 21, about 100 feet from the Bogue Chitto creek and about 100 feet off the highway. The station wagon had been burned.”

June 29, 1964: the FBI issued poster of missing workers.

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

Chaney Goodman Schwerner murdered

July – August 1964

July 12, 1964: while looking for the bodies of  the three missing civil rights workers  searchers discover the disarticulated lower torso of Charles Moore in the river south of Tallulah, Louisiana. Moore’s body was identified by the draft card he had in his possession at the time of his death.

August 4, 1964 six weeks into a federal investigation backed by President Johnson, Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner’s bodies were found in an earthen dam.

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

Chaney Goodman Schwerner murdered

Arrests

December 4, 1964: FBI agents arrested 19 Mississippi men on federal conspiracy charges in connection with the slayings.

December 18, 1964: eighteen of the 21 Mississippians implicated in the murder were arraigned before a US commissioner in Meridan, MS.

Defendant Lawrence Rainey, Neshoba county sheriff, said, “Hey, let’s have some Red Man” –and bit off a cheek-filling plug. His deputy (and codefendant) Cecil Price smiled and other defendants and spectators laughed.

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

Racist Judge Cox

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

February 24, 1965: Federal Judge William Harold Cox, an ardent segregationist, threw out the indictments against all conspirators other than Rainey and Price on the ground that the other seventeen were not acting “under color of state law.”

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

The Andrew Goodman Foundation

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

In 1966, Robert and Carolyn Goodman, Andrew’s parents, started The Andrew Goodman Foundation to carry on the spirit and purpose of their son’s life.

Their mission statement is: “We are witness to the rise of a diverse and connected new citizenry, one that can forever transform our society and our world for the better. Our ability to spark their passion — today — will result in change, tomorrow. Through Vote Everywhere, a national movement of student leaders and university administrators, we partner with America’s colleges and universities to create dynamic hubs of student participation.”

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

Cox overruled

March 28, 1966: in U. S. vs. Price et al, the Supreme Court overruled Federal Judge Cox and reinstated the indictments.

October 7, 1967: trial in the case of United States versus Cecil Price et al. began in the Meridian courtroom of Judge William Cox.  Chief Prosecutor John Doar and other government attorneys had reason to be concerned about Cox.  Cox, appointed as an effort to appease powerful Judiciary Committee Chairman (and former roommate of Cox at Ole Miss) Senator James Eastland, had been a constant source of problems for Justice Department lawyers (especially John Doar) who were seeking to enforce civil rights laws in Mississippi.  In one incident, Judge Cox referred to a group of African Americans set to testify in a voting rights case as “a bunch of chimpanzees.”

A jury of seven white men and five white women, ranging in ages from 34 to 67, was selected. Defense attorneys exercised peremptory challenges against all seventeen potential black jurors.  A white man, who admitted under questioning by Robert Hauberg, the U.S. Attorney for Mississippi, that he had been a member of the KKK “a couple of years ago,” was challenged for cause.  Judge Cox denied the challenge.

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

Convictions

October 20, 1967: the all-white jury convicted seven conspirators [Cecil Price, Samuel Bowers, Alton Wayne Roberts, Jimmy Snowden, Billy Wayne Posey, Horace Barnett, and Jimmy Arledge]  and acquitted eight others.

For three men, including Edgar Rice Killen, the trial ended in a hung jury, with the jurors deadlocked 11–1 in favor of conviction. The lone holdout said that she could not convict a preacher. The prosecution decided not to retry Killen and he was released. None of the men found guilty would serve more than six years in prison.

December 29, 1967: Judge Cox imposed sentences.  Roberts and Bowers got ten years, Posey and Price got six years, and the other three convicted defendants got four.  Cox said of his sentences, “They killed one nigger, one Jew, and a white man– I gave them all what I thought they deserved.”

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

Movie 

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

December 2, 1988: release of Mississippi Burning film. Chris Gerolmo wrote the story and Alan Parker directed it. It was loosely based on FBI’s investigation of the Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner murders.

A Wikipedia entry states: “Following its release, Mississippi Burning became embroiled in controversy over its fictionalization of events; it was heavily criticized by African-American activists who were involved in the Civil Rights Movement, as well as the families of Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner. Coretta Scott King, widow of Martin Luther King, Jr., boycotted the film, stating, “How long will we have to wait before Hollywood finds the courage and the integrity to tell the stories of some of the many thousands of black men, women and children who put their lives on the line for equality?” Myrlie Evers-Williams, the wife of slain civil rights activist Medgar Evers, said of the film, “It was unfortunate that it was so narrow in scope that it did not show one black role model that today’s youth who look at the movie could remember.”

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

Price dies

May 6, 2001: Cecil R. Price, who as a deputy sheriff arrested the three civil rights workers and was eventually found guilty of delivering them into the hands of their killers, died  in Jackson, Miss. He was 63.

The cause was a recent skull fracture that Price, a truck driver, suffered when he fell from a lift at an equipment rental store in Philadelphia, Miss. He died at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, the same hospital where in 1964 he helped to transport the bodies of the three victims for autopsies. (NYT article)

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

Killen re-tried

January 6, 2005: the State of Mississippi charged Killen (now 79-years-old) with the murders.  Police arrested Killen at his home following a grand jury session, according to Neshoba County Sheriff Larry Myers.  Convicted Klan conspirator Billy Wayne Posey expressed anger at Killen’s arrest: “After 40 years to come back and do something like this is ridiculous…like a nightmare.”  Carolyn Goodman, the 89-year-old mother of victim Andrew Goodman was pleased with the news.  She hoped the killers would someday be “behind bars and think about what they’ve done.” (NYT article)

June 21, 2005: a jury found Edgar Ray Killen, an 80-year-old former Ku Klux Klansman, guilty of manslaughter 41 years to the day of the murders. (NYT article)

June 23, 2005: Edgar Ray Killen was sentenced to 60 years in prison. (NYT article)

August 12, 2005: Judge Marcus Gordon of Circuit Court granted bail to Edgar Ray Killen pending an appeal. The release raised the possibility that Killen, 80 and in poor health, wouldl die a free man after serving barely six weeks of his sentence. Gordon said he he had little choice but to set bond while Mr. Killen appealed his conviction since the state had not proved that Mr. Killen, who uses a wheelchair, was a flight risk or threat. (NYT article)

September 9, 2005: judge Marcus Gordon sent Killen back to prison saying Killen had deceived the court about his health when he asked to be released on bond. The hearing was called after Mr. Killen, who was granted bail after testifying that he was confined to a wheelchair, was seen up and walking by sheriff’s deputies. (NYT article)

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

Story continues

July 14, 2006: Mississippi Circuit Court judge Marcus D. Gordon refused to let Killen out of prison while he appealed his conviction. Killen, 81, had asked to be freed on bond because of poor health. (NYT article)

April 13, 2007: the Mississippi Supreme Court upheld the manslaughter convictions of Edgar Ray Killen.

In his appeal, Killen had argued that in the 1960s he would not have been convicted by a jury of his peers of any crime under the evidence presented in 2005. (NYT article)

August 13, 2009: 73-year-old Billy Wayne Posey died.  In a 2000 statement, Posey had told investigators there were “a lot of persons involved in the murders that did not go to jail.”

He did not name those people. (NMissCommentator article)

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

Killen continues to appeal

February 25, 2010: Killen filed a federal lawsuit seeking millions of dollars in damages and a declaration that the FBI violated his rights  when it allegedly used a gangster during its investigation. Killen claimed the FBI conspired to suppress his rights to “defend his society and culture.” (NYT article)

October 15, 2013: the U.S. Supreme Court said it would consider arguments from  Killen who  said he was denied constitutional rights in his Mississippi trial, the same argument he had made in 2012. The Mississippi attorney general’s office said that it had notified the Supreme Court that no response to Killen’s petition would be filed.

November 4, 2013: the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a Killen’s appeal. The decision meant that the justices would not review lower-court rulings that had found no violations of Killen’s constitutional rights during his trial in Mississippi.

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

Supreme Court denial

January 4, 2014: Edgar Ray Killen, convicted in 2005 for the 1964 slayings of three civil rights workers in Mississippi, asked the U.S. Supreme Court to look again at his motion for a new trial.

January 13, 2014: the U.S. Supreme Court denied the rehearing request. The justices issued the order without comment.

November 10, 2014: President Barack Obama announced 19 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, including James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner.

He presented those awards on November 24 to family members of the three men. In his remarks, the President said:

From activists who fought for change to artists who explored the furthest reaches of our imagination; from scientists who kept America on the cutting edge to public servants who help write new chapters in our American story, these citizens have made extraordinary contributions to our country and the world,” he said.

Here is the link to the video of the presentation. Slide up to the 21 minute 40 second mark to hear President Obama’s remarks on the three murdered civil rights workers and to 29:20 for the actual presentations:

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

Killen interviewed

December 22, 2014: the Associated Press interviewed Edgar Ray Killen inside the Mississippi State Penitentiary, his first interview since his 2005 conviction. He refused to discuss the “Freedom Summer” slayings. He said he remained a segregationist who does not believe in race equality but contends he bears no ill will toward blacks.

Killen had first contacted an AP reporter 18 months ago. In his first letter on March 3, 2013, he made clear that no conversation with a reporter would result in a confession.

“That is not where I am coming from after 50 years of silence,” Killen wrote. “I have never discussed the 1964 case with anyone — an attorney, the FBI, local law nor friend — and those who say so are lying.” (The Times-Picayunne article)

Chaney Goodman Schwerner murdered

Story ends

May 26, 2016: retired Circuit Judge Marcus D. Gordon died. Gordon had sentenced Edgar Ray Killen to life in prison in 2005 Gordon had retired on March 4, 2016, from the Eighth District Circuit Court. (NYT obit)

June 21, 2016: Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood announced an end to the active federal and state investigation into the 1964 killings.

There’s nothing else that can be done,” he said in a news conference. “The FBI, my office and other law enforcement agencies have spent decades chasing leads, searching for evidence and fighting for justice for the three young men who were senselessly murdered on June 21, 1964,” he said. “It has been a thorough and complete investigation. I am convinced that during the last 52 years, investigators have done everything possible under the law to find those responsible and hold them accountable; however, We have determined that there is no likelihood of any additional convictions. Absent any new information presented to the FBI or my office, this case will be closed.”  (Clarion-Ledger article and video)

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

Killer dies in prison

January 11, 2018: Edgar Ray Killen, the former Klansman who was sentenced to a 60-year prison term in 2005 for arranging the murders of three young civil rights workers outside Philadelphia, Miss., in 1964 during the Freedom Summer drive to register Southern black voters, died in prison in Parchman, Miss. He was 92. (BBC news article)

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

 

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KKK kills Henry Hezekiah Dee Charles Eddie Moore

KKK kills Henry Hezekiah Dee Charles Eddie Moore

Charles Eddie Moore & Henry Hezekiah Dee 
KKK kills Henry Hezekiah Dee Charles Eddie Moore
Charles Eddie Moore & Henry Hezekiah Dee

May 2, 1964:  Henry Hezekiah Dee and Charles Eddie Moore (both 19) were hitchhiking on a highway near Meadville, Mississippi. James Ford Seale, believing that they were black activists, kidnapped them  and took them to the Homochitto National Forest where he, with the assistance of other KKK friends he’d contacted, tied them to a tree and beat them.

After the beating, the group put Dee and MooreHe two into a car trunk drove to them to the Ole River in Tallulah, LA. The men put  Dee and Moore into a row boat, wrapped them in plastic, tied an engine block and RR track to them, and dumped them, still alive, into the river where they died.

July 12, 1964: while looking for the bodies of  the three missing civil rights workers, Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney, searchers discover the disarticulated lower torso of Charles Moore in the river south of Tallulah, Louisiana. Moore’s body was identified by the draft card he had in his possession at the time of his death.

July 13, 1964: the disarticulated lower torso of Henry Dee was found in the river in the same area as Moore the day before.

KKK kills Henry Hezekiah Dee Charles Eddie Moore
Seale & Edwards

November 6, 1964: after an extensive FBI investigation, state authorities arrested James Ford Seale and Charles Marcus Edwards for the kidnapping and murder of Dee and Moore.

KKK kills Henry Hezekiah Dee Charles Eddie Moore

State charges dismissed

January 11, 1965: State officials dismissed the criminal charges against James Seale and Charles Edwards on the recommendation of the State District Attorney.  The motion had stated “… that in the interest of justice and in order to fully develop the facts in this case, the affidavits against James Seale and Charles Edwards should be dismissed by this Court without prejudice to the Defendants or to the State of Mississippi at this time in order that the investigation may be continued and completed for presentation to a Grand Jury at some later date.”

After the dismissal , the FBI actively continued to investigate the murders to no avail.

January 14, 1966,  the subcommittee of the House Committee on Un-American Activities, which was investigating Klan activities, called Seale and nine other alleged Klansmen from the violent White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Those called included Seale’s father, Clyde Seale, and Charles Marcus Edwards, his alleged accomplice in the Dee-Moore murders.

The Klansmen repeatedly pleaded the Fifth Amendment, while the chief investigator Donald T. Appell and House members placed into the record what they believed the men had done, including kidnapping and murdering Dee and Moore. (NYT abstract)

KKK kills Henry Hezekiah Dee Charles Eddie Moore

A brother’s persistance

In 1998 Thomas Moore, the older brother of Charles, began to work on the case. Then living in Colorado, he wrote to District Attorney Ronnie Harper  asking him to look into his brother’s murder. Harper agreed.

investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell 
Jerry Mitchell at his desk at the Jackson Clarion-Ledger

Various media journalists began to look at the story again, including Newsday20-20 and investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell of The Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, Mississippi). On January 14, 2000.

Mitchell reported that the murders occurred on federal land. This spurred the FBI to take another look, as the location gave them jurisdiction.

KKK kills Henry Hezekiah Dee Charles Eddie Moore
David Ridgen & Thomas Moore

Filmmaker David Ridgen of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation contacted Moore. Together they went to Mississippi and on July 7, 2005, Ridgen began shooting the documentary Mississippi Cold Case, about the events of Moore’s brother’s murder. 

Part of the challenge was that they were operating under the impression that Seale had died, but locals revealed that he was still alive.

KKK kills Henry Hezekiah Dee Charles Eddie Moore

The federal trial

July 25, 2006: a federal court granted Charles Edwards immunity from prosecution. In his testimony,  In his testimony, Edwards will say that he aimed a shotgun at the victims while Klan members beat them, that he saw the victims stuffed alive into a trunk and driven away, and that Seale later reported he and others drowned the two men in a bayou of the Mississippi river. (Northeastern article)

January 24, 2007: a federal grand jury indicted James Ford Seale. 

June 14, 2007: James Seale convicted by a federal jury on one count of conspiracy to kidnap two persons, and two counts of kidnapping where the victims were not released unharmed.

KKK kills Henry Hezekiah Dee Charles Eddie Moore
James Ford Seale

August 24, 2007: James Ford Seale was sentenced to three life terms. (NYT article)

KKK kills Henry Hezekiah Dee Charles Eddie Moore

Conviction overturned/upheld

September 9, 2008: a panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the kidnapping conviction of James Seale.

June 5, 2009: an en banc panel of the Court of Appeals upheld James Seales’s original conviction. The defense counsel appealed to the US Supreme Court.

November 2, 2009, the Supreme Court declined to hear the case, letting the lower rulings stand. (Fox News article)

August 4, 2011: Seale died in prison. Thomas Moore, Charles’s brother, who had helped renew the case, said in a statement regarding Seale’s death, ““Rejoicing? That’s not in my nature…. All of that is behind me. I lived through the process. I hope he found peace with his God.” (NYT article)

  • 2007 Jackson Free Press article entitled,   “James Ford Seale: A Trail of Documents Tells the Story.”
  • NPR timeline.
  • coldcases.org article

Aftermath

KKK kills Henry Hezekiah Dee Charles Eddie Moore

 

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KKK Kills Activist Viola Liuzzo

KKK Kills Activist Viola Liuzzo

Viola Fauver Gregg

Viola Fauver Gregg was born on  April 11, 1925 in California, PA. Her family was poor and often moved to find work.

 

 While living in Detroit, she witnessed the cruelty that its black citizens were subjected to and became sympathetic.  In 1964 she joined the National Association for the Advancement of Color People.
 By then she had married Anthony Liuzzo and they had three children.
 Watching the horrors of the March to Montgomery’s first attempt, Liuzzo decided to go to Selma and participate.
KKK Kills Activist Viola Liuzzo

Activist murdered

She joined parts of the march to Montgomery and on March 25, 1965 listened to Dr Martin Luther King,  Jr’s famous “How Long Will It Take” speech.
 
 

It would be the last speech she heard.

Using her car, Viola Liuzzo and  Leroy Moton, a 19-year-old black man who had  also marched and assisted with the March to Montgomery,  were helping to  shuttle people from Montgomery back to Selma.

KKK Kills Activist Viola Liuzzo

After dropping passengers in Selma, she and Moton headed back to Montgomery. On the way another car  pulled alongside and a passenger in that car shot directly at Liuzzo, hitting her twice in the head, and killing her instantly. Moton was uninjured.

KKK Kills Activist Viola Liuzzo

Arrests immediate

Within 24 hours President Lyndon Johnson appeared on national TV  to announce the arrest of Collie Wilkins (21), William Eaton (41) and Eugene Thomas (41) and  Gary Rowe (34). (text of announcement)

 

Johnson stated, “Mrs. Liuzzo went to Alabama to serve the struggle for justice. She was murdered by the enemies of justice, who for decades have used the rope and the gun and the tar and feathers to terrorize their neighbors.” 

March 27, 1965 : a group of about 200 protesters, black and white, led by the Rev. James Orange of the SCLC marched to the Dallas County courthouse in Selma. The Rev. James Bevel told them, “[Viola Liuzzo] gave her life that freedom might be saved throughout this land.” 

KKK Kills Activist Viola Liuzzo

Funeral services

March 29, 1965 : the NAACP sponsored a memorial service for Viola Liuzzo at the People’s Community Church in Detroit. Fifteen hundred people attended, among them, Rosa Parks.

March 30, 1965: funeral services were held for Viola Liuzzo. Her funeral was held at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic church in Detroit, with many prominent members of both the civil rights movement and government there to pay their respects. Included in this group were Martin Luther King, Jr.; NAACP executive director Roy Wilkins; Congress on Racial Equality national leader James Farmer; Michigan lieutenant governor William G. Milliken; Teamsters president Jimmy Hoffa; and United Auto Workers president Walter Reuther. At San Francisco’s Grace Episcopal Cathedral, Martin Luther King said of Liuzzo, “If physical death is the price some must pay to save us and our white brothers from eternal death of the spirit, then no sacrifice could be more redemptive.

On April 1, a cross was burned in front of four Detroit homes, including the Liuzzo residence. (History Engine article)

April 3, 1965 : the mother of Collie Leory Wilkins told President Johnson that he has made it impossible for her son to have a fair trial.

KKK Kills Activist Viola Liuzzo

Indictments and trials

KKK Kills Activist Viola Liuzzo
From Left to Right; Collie Leroy Wilkins Jr., Eugene Thomas, and William Orville Eaton.

April 6, 1965 : a grand jury indicted Collie Wilkins, William Eaton, Eugene Thomas, and Gary Rowe.

April 15, 1965 : all charges against Gary Rowe were dropped, and he was identified as a paid undercover FBI informant who would testify for the prosecution. [It will later be revealed that Rowe had participated in the beatings of Freedom Riders in Birmingham in 1961 and was suspected of involvement in the 1963 bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church.]

May 3, 1965 : the Wilkins trial began. 

May 6, 1965 : during his final defense argumentsWilkens’s lawyer, Matt Murphy, made blatantly racist comments, including calling Liuzzo a “white nigger,” in order to sway the jury. The tactic was successful enough to result in a mistrial the following day (10-2 in favor of conviction)

May 10, 1965 : Collie Wilkins, William Eaton, and Eugene Thomas participated in a Ku Klux Klan parade. Collie Wikkins, free on bond after the mistrial, carried a Confederate flag.  After the parade, the Imperial Wizard of the United Klans of America, Robert Shelton, asked the three men to stand. They received a standing ovation.

August 20, 1965 :  Matt Murphy, the defendants’ lawyer in the Viola Liuzzo murder, died in an automobile accident after he fell asleep while driving and crashed into a gas tank truck. Segregationist and former mayor of Birmingham, Art Hanes, agree\ds to represent three accused killers.

October 19, 1965 : State Attorney General, Richmond M Flowers, interrupted the second Liuzzo trial and asked the Alabama Supreme Court to purge some jurists, a number of whom stated during jury selection that they believed white civil rights workers to be inferior to other whites. The request was denied. 

October 20, 1965 : Roy Reed in the NY Times reported that, ”an all-white jury dominated by self-proclaimed white supremacists was chosen…for the retrial of Collie Leroy Wilkins, Jr, a Ku Klux Klansman charged with the murder of Viola Liuzzo.” 

October 22, 1965 : the jury took less than two hours to acquit Collie Wilkins in Liuzzo’s slaying.

KKK Kills Activist Viola Liuzzo

Federal trial

November 30, 1965 : Collie Wilkins (already acquitted in State Court), Eugene Thomas, and William Eaton faced trial on Federal charges that grew out of the killing of a Viola Liuzzo. They were charged with conspiracy under the 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act, a Reconstruction civil rights statute. The charges did not specifically refer to Liuzzo’s murder.

December 3, 1965 : an all-white jury found Collie Wilkins, Eugene Thomas, and William Eaton guilty. The three were sentenced to 10 years in prison.

January 15, 1966 : the Birmingham News newspaper published an ad offering Viola Liuzzo’s bullet-ridden car for sale. Asking $3,500, the ad read, “Do you need a crowd-getter? I have a 1963 Oldsmobile two-door in which Mrs. Viola Liuzzo was killed. Bullet holes and everything intact. Ideal to bring in crowds.”

April 27, 1967 : the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld the conspiracy convictions of  Thomas and Wilkins, Jr. William O Eaton, the third person, had died.

May 17, 1982 : the US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled that Alabama could prosecute Gary Rowe, the FBI informer, in the 1965 slaying of Viola Luizzo. The ruling affirmed an order by a lower court.

KKK Kills Activist Viola Liuzzo
Gary Rowe

October 30, 1982 : a newly released report said the FBI  covered up the violent activities of their informant, Gary Thomas Rowe Jr., but his lawyer said the Government knew it was not getting ”a Sunday school teacher” when it asked Mr. Rowe to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan. (NYT article)

Rowe, who was a Klan informant from 1959 to 1965, was charged with murder in the 1965 killing of Viola Liuzzo, a civil rights worker, but a federal appeals court barred him from being brought to trial because of an earlier agreement giving him immunity.

The 1979 report was released publicly for the first time because the Justice Department lost a Freedom of Information suit filed by Playboy magazine. In the report department investigators said agents protected Mr. Rowe because the informant ”was simply too valuable to abandon.’

KKK Kills Activist Viola Liuzzo


KKK Kills Activist Viola Liuzzo

Family must pay

April 2, 1983 : final arguments in the $2 million negligence suit against the FBI were made in Federal court by lawyers for the children of Viola Liuzzo, whose murder they attributed to a paid F.B.I. informer, Gary Rowe.

Viola Liuzzo’s children  not only lost their suit against the Federal Government  but were ordered to pay court costs of $79,800, in addition to legal fees that amounted to more than $60,000. They appealed the ruling which was reduced to a smaller amount.

The Liuzzo family’s court costs alone were estimated at $60,000, according to Jeffrey Long, one of their lawyers. Last week, Judge Joiner dismissed the family’s $2 million lawsuit against the Federal Government. The family maintained Gary Rowe, an informer for the FBI, either shot at Mrs. Liuzzo or could have prevented the shooting.

February 7, 1997 : from the NYT, “Last week, a Confederate battle flag was spray-painted on a monument in Hayneville, Ala., to Viola Liuzzo.”

KKK Kills Activist Viola Liuzzo

Legacy

April 10, 2015: Wayne State University posthumously awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree to Viola Liuzzo.  Liuzzo’s family traveled from around the country to attend the ceremony and accept the award on her behalf. 

KKK Kills Activist Viola Liuzzo
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