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May 1, 2001
4:10 PM   Subscribe

Ex-Klansman Thomas Blanton Jr. has been convicted of first degree murder, for the bombing and killing of four young girls in a Birmingham, Alabama church, back in 1963. If anyone here has seen Four Little Girls, you'll probably agree: it's about time.
posted by mathowie (18 comments total)

 
This case does kind of make you wonder just how fair a trial is 38 years after the events involved. It's kind of hard to defend yourself in this situation. Alibi? I have no idea what I did last week, let alone dozens of years prior.
posted by Doug at 4:13 PM on May 1, 2001


Doug, they didn't just pick this guy up on the street last week and bring him in. He was a suspect from the get-go, and all the evidence (including Blanton's defense) was collected, gone over, examined, studied and catalogued and long ago.
posted by jpoulos at 4:19 PM on May 1, 2001


Justice works once in a while, thankfully.
posted by owillis at 4:20 PM on May 1, 2001


"Blanton was among a group of Klansman identified as suspects within weeks, although the Justice Department later concluded that prosecution was blocked by Director J. Edgar Hoover. "

even it was blocked by Hoover, why did it take 38 years to prosecute Blanton?
posted by register at 4:25 PM on May 1, 2001


jpoulus, I'm not saying they didn't have a very good case, or that he didn't do it. I'm just saying it seems hard to have a truly fair trial when it's so far after the fact.
posted by Doug at 4:30 PM on May 1, 2001


Damn right 'it's about time.' Unfortunately, like any crime of this nature, nothing can be done to give those girls back their lives.
posted by quirked at 4:51 PM on May 1, 2001


I'll play a mournful tune on the worlds smallest violin. There are rarely statutes of limitations on murder.

Initially it took the FBI investigation (in place of the white local authorities who refused their duty to their citizens) to establish that Chambliss was the ringleader. The state attorney general prosecuted him in the 1970s. Even though the FBI concluded that Hoover interfered with its own investigation, the evidence against the living suspects was scant and circumstantial: until the deathbed confession of another conspirator. Plus, it seems that these heinous crimes were something the bombers bragged about and many of their friends and family knew -- and kept silent.

Fortunately, today's local governments are multi-racial and are redressing the wrongs of their predecessors.
posted by dhartung at 5:13 PM on May 1, 2001


Instead of jailing (and housing) him for the rest of his life, I wish we could end his life the way he ended the lives of the 4 girls:

Put him in brick building and blow it up.

That's justice.
posted by msacheson at 10:03 PM on May 1, 2001


Yeah msacheson, for this guy lets all agree to give up basic human rights and then we can begin the whipping, cutting off hands, and castration that you seemingly can't wait for.
posted by skallas at 10:22 PM on May 1, 2001


For this guy, yeah...
posted by owillis at 11:23 PM on May 1, 2001


It's about time, but it's never too late.

This story reminds me of the movie, Ghosts of Mississippi ("Is it ever too late to do the right thing?").

The similarities are astounding...
posted by IZ at 1:52 AM on May 2, 2001


Why would you possibly care about this guys supposed basic human rights? With 6 billion people on the planet I think we can afford to dispense with such obviously defective ones. Instead of incarcerating them for decades we could use the funds for other things, like education for starters.

My plain belief on basic human rights is: Everyone has them, until they take away someone else's against their will, in which case they forfeit their own.

A murderer, rapist, or anyone else like that should have any rights ever again. It is high time for society to stop coddling criminals. They get sent to prison to pay for their crimes, not so I can pay for their college education, or for a gym for them to workout in.

Basic human rights... tell that to the 4 little girls who had their rights stolen forever.
posted by a3matrix at 4:24 AM on May 2, 2001


. Its "high time" we stopped going overboard because there's a movie or some noteriety about a case and because of which need to make special punishments. I wonder how long you'd keep your anti-coddling views the next time you get arrested.

"Yes officer beat me. I may or may not have done something."
posted by skallas at 6:29 AM on May 2, 2001


I'm gunna have to take back my comments about a fair trial being difficult in cases like this, because the level of rationality and respect for law is just overwhelming in this thread.
From comments like, "Put him in brick building and blow it up," I can only assume that you are a lawyer of some sort, msacheson.
posted by Doug at 7:10 AM on May 2, 2001


What bugs me about this is the premier law enforcement official of the U.S. knew about all this shit going down and never lifted a finger to either prevent it or bring the perps to justice. He hated King, Bobby K. and all those other "commies" out there trying to get our society to hold to its "ideals."
posted by SteveS at 7:15 AM on May 2, 2001


The FBI has a very mixed record on their behavior during the civil rights struggle. They bugged MLK, COINTELPRO infiltrated groups, some radical, others merely progressive, avoided investigating lynchings, and worse; but they also helped investigate murders of (generally white) civil rights workers (the Mississippi Burning case, known as MIBURN).

Frankly, I'm not sure I can tell whether the FBI fairly investigated here. If we have to get angry at anyone, we should start not with the FBI but with the racist, stonewalling hicks who failed to investigate their own people, and probably made the later investigations by both the state of Alabama and the FBI futile because of the destruction of evidence and witness tampering.

This prosecution was possible only because people finally came forward and told what they knew. They kept a terrible secret for many years and deserve no sympathy for their guilt. As far as I'm concerned, every single one of the bomber's family ought to be prosecuted for being an accessory to murder and obstruction of justice. Will that happen? Nah.
posted by dhartung at 8:41 AM on May 2, 2001


Doug, I think you should keep in mind that the delay in this trial is directly attributable to actions taken by the murderers. If they wanted a swift, speedy, and timely trial, they had thirty-five years to come forward. They had thirty-five years of freedom, while the families of the girls killed had thirty-five years of justice delayed.

As far as I'm concerned, the unfairness is not in the late trial; it is in the lateness of the trial.

People accused in a criminal trial do not have a right to an alibi, but to a defense. When a witness comes forward with new information thirty-five years later, that witness is still able to be cross-examined; that evidence is still able to be judged. Indeed, if there were scientific evidence that were to exonerate them, the techniques available today are even better.
posted by dhartung at 8:54 AM on May 2, 2001


Gee Skallas. You make it sound like being arrested is pretty routine for you. Not for me. While I don't necessarily approve of some police activity I can still recognize their role in society. For law abiding citizens that can maintain rational behavior in an encounter with police they pose no threat. I have been pulled over for traffic violations, even been in troubled as a teenager, and never had any problem.
Add to that the fact that I am prior military and it smooths things out even more.

Not all cops are bad. Try and keep that in mind. Not all people are good either. Try and keep that in mind as well.

And try not to get pissed at me merely because my opinion differs form yours.

Have a nice day.
posted by a3matrix at 9:03 AM on May 2, 2001


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