House votes to start unsolved crimes unit for cold civil rights cases Gabriel Haboubi at 1:20 PM ET
[JURIST] The US House of Representatives Wednesday overwhelmingly passed the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act [HR 923 bill information] by 422-2 [roll call]. The bill would establish an Unsolved Crimes Section within the civil rights [JURIST news archive] divisions of the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation [official websites], funded by an allocation of $10 million per year over the next ten years. It would also provide $2 million a year for state and local investigations. The act is named for Emmett Till [Wikipedia backgrounder; JURIST news archive], a black teenager who was murdered in 1955 by unknown parties in Mississippi after he allegedly whistled at a white woman. Richard Cohen, President of the Southern Poverty Law Center, had testified [transcript; press release] in support of the bill. A senate version [S 535 bill information] is expected to pass without difficulty.
Several cold cases have been reopened [US News backgrounder] in the past few years. Last week a federal jury convicted [JURIST report] former Ku Klux Klan (KKK) member James Ford Seale [Wikipedia profile] for his role in the deaths of two 19-year-olds in Mississippi in 1964. Earlier this year Mississippi upheld the 2005 sentencing [JURIST reports] of ex-KKK member Edgar Ray Killen [Wikipedia profile], now in his 80s, to the maximum 60 years in prison for the 1964 deaths of three civil rights activists. AP has more.
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