OUR VIEW: Civil rights case deserves overdue closure

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Today we begin publication of a three-part series that looks at one of our state&8217;s most historic civil rights cases.

The 1965 death of Jimmie Lee Jackson in Selma erupted onto the state&8217;s civil rights landscape. It marked a turning point in the movement that until that point had been reserved and, for the most part, uneventful.

But in February of that year, an evening candlelight vigil held by civil rights leaders in Marion turned bloody and violent.

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According to reports, Alabama state troopers beat the activists in an effort to break up the vigil. Jackson was reportedly helping his grandfather escape the melee when he was beaten and then shot. Former state trooper James Fowler has since admitted to shooting Jackson.

This incident was the catalyst for a stronger, bolder civil rights movement in Alabama. It led to the famed march from Selma to Montgomery. Now, more than 42 years later, it will lead to a courthouse in Marion.

Today, the case will come before a Perry County grand jury when District Attorney Michael Jackson seeks a murder indictment against Fowler.

Jackson will make the case that Fowler murdered Jackson in cold blood out of hatred. Fowler, now 73, denies these claims, saying that the shooting was accidental.

Regardless of the outcome, we are glad Jackson is taking these bold steps. This is a case that deserves closure, and a court of law should be allowed to provide that.