Doug Jones Intros Bill to Solve Civil Rights Cases
Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) introduced legislation on Tuesday mandating the review, declassification, and release of government records related to unsolved criminal civil rights cases. The legislation is necessary because the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), as implemented, has prevented the timely and adequate disclosure of executive branch records, and congressional records are not subject to public disclosure under FOIA. In addition, some of these records, although almost 50 years old, remain classified unnecessarily or shielded from public view. Jones says the Civil Rights Cold Case Records Collection Act remedies this problem by requiring the National Archives and Records Administration to create a collection of government documents related to civil rights cold cases and to make those documents available to the public. Senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) have signed on as co-sponsors. When the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes Reauthorization Act was signed in 2016, an expansion of a law passed in 2007, the Southern Poverty Law Center sent to the FBI and DOJ a list of 74 cold cases of Black people allegedly killed by white people between 1952 and 1968. The murders were described as “violent circumstances that may have been racially motivated.” Most of the homicides occurred in Mississippi, where 32 people were killed. Others were in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. More on Jones’ bill here.