Senator Calls for Federal Probes

By: The Associated Press
By: The Associated Press

U.S. Senator Jim Talent of Missouri has called for the creation of a Justice Department unit focused on unsolved civil rights era killings.

The Missouri Republican's proposal comes days after an 80-year-old former Klansman, Edgar Ray Killen, was handed a 60-year prison sentence in Mississippi for orchestrating the slayings of three civil rights workers in 1964.

Talent says both witnesses and suspects in such cases are aging. As they die, they take with them the last chance for justice.

Under Talent's plan, the Justice Department would coordinate with local and state authorities on old civil rights cases. An annual report would be made to Congress on the progress of investigations.

Meanwhile, the brother of one such victim agrees. Stephen Schwerner, the brother of Michael Schwerner, says there are many other unsolved killings and he hopes the recent conviction in his brother's death will open the door to more investigations.

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