The Year of Moving Forward

The Year of Moving Forward
At our 4 person wedding reception in DC

Monday, July 2, 2007

Western Tribune Column from last week

I realized I never posted last week's Western Tribune column, so here it is. And this weeks is regarding our organization in Bessemer, so look forward to that. Hopefully I will remember to post it by Wednesday.

Here's the column:

Last week this newspaper printed a story about the death of young Billy Gafnea of Brighton in 1956, and his sister’s efforts to find closure. Debra believes, and evidence seems to back her up, that her brother was murdered, and the crime covered up.

Last week the U. S. House of Representatives voted almost unanimously to spend $100 million to probe into Civil Right’s era cold cases from the 1950’s and 1960’s in an effort to solve more of the horrible crimes that took place during that time. This legislation is expected to become law when it reaches the president’s desk.

Critics claim that this is money wasted. While not being overtly racist in their explanation, they say that the money could be better spent, and that since many of the witnesses and perpetrators of these crimes are aged or dead, the chances are that not many of the crimes will be solved. In addition, they concede that if people come forward with new evidence a case should be prosecuted, but officials should not be looking for new evidence, when past investigations have not been successful.

However, the facts are that many if not most of the past investigations were half hearted and lacking in sincerity because many prosecutors and law enforcement officers at the time either turned a blind eye or even participated in the crimes and cover-ups. Crimes are solved by competent law enforcement officials procuring evidence, either voluntarily from witnesses or as a result of detective work, so looking for new evidence is not out of the ordinary.

We learned just recently that James Ford Seale was recently convicted for the 1964 slayings of two black teenagers in Mississippi. This case was opened because of the efforts of one man, Thomas Moore, the brother of one of the teens, who found a prosecutor willing to listen. This is proof that seeking justice is worthwhile, and can be successful.

Any murder, in which the killer may still be living, is worth investigating. Modern forensics in combination with witnesses desiring to lessen the burdens they have carried for decades makes for the possibility of justice being served.

With civil rights cases in which race played a role, potential justice has the blessing of additional federal dollars to improve the chances of success.

In Billy Gafnea’s case, only increased public interest, and investigators willing to put resources into finding answers will lead to justice being served.

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