Thursday, May 10, 2007

Another story from the Civil Rights era comes to pass

And it seems like for a change that the person involved is doing the right thing now, finally. It's been in the news how justice or indeed a reopening of infamous cases from the Civil Rights Era. We could be talking about Emmit Till, to the three young men killed near Philadelphia, Mississippi (I would like to refer you to the movie Mississippi Burning for a dramatic account of that story).

Here's the story from the Chicago Tribune...
A former state trooper surrendered Thursday on a murder charge in the 1965 shooting death of a black man during a civil rights protest, a killing that led to the "Bloody Sunday" march and the passage of the Voting Rights Act.

Former trooper James Bonard Fowler, who contends he fired in self-defense in a struggle over a gun, was charged with first-degree and second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of 26-year-old Jimmie Lee Jackson.

The first-degree charge is for a killing that is intentional, while the second-degree charge is for one that is unintentional. Both carry a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Fowler, who is 73 and lives in Geneva in southeast Alabama, was allowed to remain free on a $250,000 property bond.

Fowler said little other than to describe himself as a farmer.

His attorney, George Beck, said the case is prejudiced against his client because of the passage of time and the death of witnesses, and he said he would seek to have the charges dismissed.

A Perry County grand jury returned the sealed indictment against Fowler on Wednesday in the 1965 killing in Marion.

He is accused of shooting Jackson in Mack's Cafe, where a number of people fled after troopers and other law officers broke up a protest on the night of Feb. 18, 1965. Witnesses said the officers were clubbing people in an out-of-control attack that continued into the cafe, where they said Jackson was trying to protect his mother and grandfather when he was shot.

Accounts by troopers say the crowd refused orders to disperse and, when the street lights suddenly went out, they were pelted by bricks and bottles.

Fowler has said he was assisting a trooper who had been struck when Jackson hit him on the head with a bottle. He said he fired the gun when Jackson tried to grab it.

"He was up here quelling a disturbance and someone was killed," Beck said. "It's very unfortunate but it's certainly not murder. Under no circumstances could it be intentional murder or murder. The shooting was justified and the evidence will show this."

District Attorney Michael Jackson, who is not related to the victim, said Thursday that in probing the four-decade-old case, he learned that Fowler also shot a detainee to death in 1966 at the city jail in Alabaster and struck his superior officer in 1968.

Alabama Department of Public Safety records show that Fowler was fired on Sept. 30, 1968, but do not indicate the reason.

Fowler did not comment on the matter Thursday. Beck said he was uncertain about details of the Alabaster shooting, but he said the 1968 altercation occurred when Fowler was mourning the death of his brother in Vietnam and there was a disagreement over sick pay.
Not a well known story of course but one worth mentioning. If an injustice was proven to be done here then there will still be justice even after all this time.

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