Friday, June 17, 2005

Philadelphia story

The trial of 80-year-old Edgar Ray Killen in Philadelphia, Miss., has begun, but yesterday's proceedings were cut short when Killen was rushed to the hospital. In the peculiar way in which trials are run--in the court's attempt to keep the jury focused on the case and not extraneous events--the jury was not told that the defendant was hospitalized.

Just before the incident, Killen had lost an argument that would have kept the transcript of the 1967 trial against him out of this trial.

On NPR yesterday (hear the two-part episode on the web site), Walter Cronkite remembers the story of the murders of Goodman, Chaney, and Schwerner in the context of that summer of 1964. A sympathetic President Johnson conferred frequently with J. Edgar Hoover's office and seemed very much to want to see justice done--but Vietnam was a distraction. Cronkite reminds us that Vietnam became a distraction to the movement in general.

Killen is expected to be back in the courtroom this morning.

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