Monday, December 20, 2004
You can still sign the JFP petition calling for the speedy prosecution of the murderers of Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner. To date, we have collected nearly 700 names.
[verbatim statement] JACKSON, Miss. – An effort to bring to justice those responsible for the 1964 murders of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, three civil rights workers in Neshoba County gained new momentum Monday with the creation of a $100,000 reward fund. The reward fund, made available anonymously, will be administered by the Mississippi Religious Leadership Conference (MRLC). The reward will provide compensation for persons providing new material information or evidence leading to the arrest and conviction of persons responsible for the murders.
"The roots of MRLC, an interracial, interfaith organization, were established in 1964 specifically to address the bombing of African American churches across the state," said Dr. Paul Jones, executive director of MRLC. "Committed to justice since inception, MRLC is honored to oversee this fund," added Jones.
"Since 1964, MRLC has served as a force for racial justice and reconciliation in Mississippi," said MRLC's chairperson, Episcopal Bishop Duncan M. Gray III of Jackson.
MRLC will administer the reward and coordinate money contributed toward solving the 40-year-old crime. "There are two aims here," said Rev. James White, treasurer of the group and pastor of Fondren Presbyterian Church. The first aim is justice for murderers. The second aim is that in the process for justice we find reconciliation. We hope to look into the past truthfully and bring this sad chapter to an end."
Wayne Drinkwater, attorney for MRLC, said an independent panel will determine any recipients for the reward. "We hope the establishment of this reward will encourage people who have information on these crimes to come forward and help remove this stain on the honor of our state." said Drinkwater.
The reward is the most recent step taken by citizens of Mississippi to ensure that justice is finally served in the case of the three men who were seeking to register black voters in Neshoba County when they disappeared and were later found buried in an earthen dam in a remote part of the county. Dr. Susan M. Glisson, director of the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation at the University of Mississippi, which has supported efforts to seek justice in this case, noted, "The people of Mississippi began to address the injustices of the past, beginning with a conviction in the murder of Medgar Evers.
This fund shows the continuing commitment to securing justice in our state," said Glisson.
Former Gov. William Winter, the man for whom the racial reconciliation institute is named, said the reward is the latest step in correcting an historic wrong. "This action follows a meeting in Philadelphia last June when more that 1,500 Mississippians, including the governor, three congressmen and most of the elected officials of that community, made a commitment to pursue all those who were involved in one of the state's worst acts of racial violence," said Winter.
If people have information concerning the murders, they may contact the Mississippi Attorney General's office at 601-359-4381. Information may also be provided anonymously. All applicants for the reward must pass a polygraph examination. Instructions on how to apply for the reward will be available from the Attorney General's office.
Those who would like to contribute to the fund to enable the MRLC to publicize the $100,000 reward and to seek information concerning these tragic murders should mail them to MRLC, P. O. Box 68123, Jackson, MS 39286-8123.
Any questions concerning the reward may be directed to:
Dr. Paul Jones, executive director of MRLC, at 601-540-0949
Mr. Wayne Drinkwater, attorney for MRLC, at 601-948-8000
Rev. James White, treasurer for MRLC, at 601-982-3232.