Trial of Klan Thug Gets Under Way

The New York Times reports on the trial of Edgar Ray Killen, charged in the murder of three pro-democracy activists in Mississippi in 1964.
When they had a phone, it rang constantly. People on the other end would tell Rita Schwerner that her husband was a dead man. Their license-plate number was circulated to law enforcement officers.

That was the welcome given a young couple who arrived in Mississippi from New York in 1964 to join the civil rights movement, the former Ms. Schwerner, now Rita Bender, told a jury on Thursday. She was the first witness in the state murder trial of a onetime member of the Ku Klux Klan accused of orchestrating the killing of her husband, Michael Schwerner, and two other civil rights workers, James Earl Chaney and Andrew Goodman, more than 40 years ago.

...Mr. Schwerner and Mr. Chaney, who was from Meridian, built shelves to house the donated books that were not available in the public library for blacks. There was a Ping-Pong table. But the workers were also trying to help blacks register to vote, making contacts and looking for places to hold training classes. Mr. Schwerner and Mr. Chaney had visited the Mount Zion United Methodist Church, a black church in Neshoba County near Philadelphia. ...

Read the whole thing at the link.

Fighting fascism is never easy, whether in Afghanistan or Mississippi or Iraq or Iran. But somehow, no matter how many lynchings or how many suicide bombings, the human instinct for freedom remains. Those of us who have had the luxury of growing up in free societies would do well to take a moment to remember the sacrifices made by people like Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner - and those being made by our warriors and their allies today.