Site of the 1955 trial
Democratic presidential hopeful Chris Dodd takes a look at the Emmett Till bill for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution ..
Fifty-two years ago, EmmettTill, a 14-year-old black boy, was beaten and shot to death for allegedly whistling at a white woman in segregated Mississippi. An all-white jury took 67 minutes to acquit two white men of the murder; months later, they admitted the crime and spent the rest of their lives in freedom.
And now, we have named a bill in honor of Till, to expose the unpunished crimes of murderers like his and to confront the troubled history of race in America. This week, we celebrate the passage of the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act in the House of Representatives. Unfortunately, the only thing standing in the way of its Senate passage is a hold placed on it by U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). His delaying tactics are postponing justice day by day, and we trust that he will overcome his faulty objections.
This biIl creates two new civil rights positions in the Department of Justice to spearhead and coordinate federal, state, and local efforts to bring long-time fugitives to justice. It authorizes a potential $10 million per year to be added to the Department of Justice budget for the purpose of investigating and prosecuting outstanding Civil Rights era crimes. It also authorizes $1.5 million per year for outreach to garner the cooperation of local communities, and $2 million in federal support to help state and local law enforcement officials prosecute these crimes.