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FBI investigating suspicious civil rights era deaths

[JURIST] The FBI [official website] has started investigating 10-12 civil rights era suspicious death cases [press release], according to FBI Director Robert Mueller [remarks] and US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [official profile] Tuesday. Although officials declined to comment on which cases have been re-opened, they did confirm that the lynching of four sharecroppers in 1946 on Moore's Ford Bridge in Georgia were among the cases. Investigators would not comment on whether the cases also included the shooting death of Maceo Snipes [AP backgrounder] in 1946, right after Snipes voted for the first time in Georgia. Investigators did confirm that most of the civil rights cases [FBI backgrounder] being investigated stem from suspicious deaths in the South. Working in conjunction with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the National Urban League [advocacy websites], the FBI has identified 100 cold cases that may warrant further investigation.

Tuesday's announcement falls in line with a recent trend in settling unfinished civil rights cases. Last month, the US Justice Department charged [press release; JURIST report] James Ford Seale with kidnapping and conspiracy in relation to the deaths of Charles Eddie Moore and Henry Hezekiah Dee in Mississippi in 1964. Also on Tuesday, a Mississippi grand jury refused to indict [JURIST report] Carolyn Bryant on manslaughter charges for the 1955 kidnap and murder of Emmett Till [JURIST news archive], citing insufficient evidence. The US Justice Department re-opened the Till case [JURIST report] in 2004, but later turned the case over to the local Mississippi district attorney after deciding not to bring federal civil rights charges [JURIST report]. Gonzales noted that, like the Till case, the federal government may not have jurisdiction over the re-opened cases. AP has more.

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