[Irby] Thank You, Mr. McIntyre | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

[Irby] Thank You, Mr. McIntyre

PHILADELPHIA, MISS.—Lawyers made closing arguments today in the State of Mississippi v. Edgar Ray Killen trial. I sat with the media in the courtroom shaking my head as defense attorney James McIntyre of Jackson avoided addressing the facts of the case and tried instead to convince the jury why it should not have been brought up in the first place.

Mr. McIntyre told the jury, and the world, that the case is just "opening old wounds." He said, "The state of Mississippi needs to go forward, not backward," adding, "This has done nothing but agitate all the citizens."

We hear this often, of course. Some think we should not bring up the past but look toward the future. I say we have to do both. I want to know how people think anyone can move away from the past when its remnants and its lasting effects are slapping us in the face.

This trial gives Mississippi a chance not only to address, but also to redress past ignorance and wrongs. It is not opening an old wound; it's seeking to heal one that is still open.

James McIntyre's comments represent bigotry in its most deceiving form—delivered by a man in a business suit and in a high-profile occupation who presented every cliché in the book to prove his point.

"This is not a case to solve a crime but to pull back the curtains for the TV cameras," Mr. McIntyre said. Actually, this trial is long overdue. No one involved in the murders was ever indicted on murder charges; thus, for the past 41 years, Chaney, Schwerner and Goodman's murderers have been free to go on with their lives while their families grieved for a wrong our state never attempted to make right.

The indictment of Killen is only a small step toward justice in this case. Many other men were involved in these murders. And even as we ask, "why aren't the other men being prosecuted?" we can agree that this case is occurring in order to solve a crime—one that should have been solved in 1964. Still, Mr. McIntyre told the jury that this case is a "complete distraction for the citizens of Mississippi," and that the wounds were "healed 40 years ago."

But they weren't. How could they have been when neither Neshoba County nor the state of Mississippi would even try to prosecute murderers trying to preserve our "way of life"?

Mr. McIntyre pointed toward the media several times during the closing statement, saying we would all leave when it was over. Yet, the reporters and the television cameras—including many based right here in Mississippi—are here to document the import of this case as a key historical event and as an attempt to mete out justice. Therefore, the curtain is not pulled back for some national media corps, the curtain has been pulled back for all of us. It is just now that the reality behind that curtain is not being considered taboo by an overwhelming majority of Mississippians. That is nothing of which to be proud.

Mr. McIntyre also played the crime card—pointing to "murders in Jackson, Mississippi" as his cliché to remind the jurors that there is plenty of crime today to keep the state busy. "Crime knocks at our door every day," he said, using an excuse—and a race-tinged one at that—used repeatedly over the years here for not prosecuting this and other civil-rights cases.

Why this case, the reasoning goes? Because this wound has been left to fester for too long. Without justice there can be no reconciliation. It is the crimes left unprosecuted that keep the wounds open—not the prosecution itself. The case involving the murder of the three civil rights workers has never been put to rest, and convicting Killen would only be a start. There is so much hate and destruction that has yet to be addressed here, even as we work toward a positive future; thus, Mr. McIntyre better hold on to his seat.

He claims that it is the trial that is dividing us, and that Mississippi has "made more strides on racial balance than any other state in the Union." Mississippi is not the model state for race relations. If I hear one more time that Mississippi is progressive because it has the most black elected officials of any other state in the country, I am going to scream. We should have had the most black elected officials a long time ago. According to Mississippi's demographic make-up, we should have a lot of black officials—yet, the electorate has not elected a statewide black official since Reconstruction. Thus, patting ourselves on the back is a little much.

Throughout his remarks, Mr. McIntyre played us against outsiders. "When everyone else has gone home, we still have to live here with each other." Sounds a bit like a Confederate sympathizer promoting the Lost Cause myth, doesn't it? What he does not realize is that this case can bring us together rather than push us further apart. If anything is going to bring us together as a state, it is going to be facing the truth.

Today in the courtroom, Mr. McIntyre represented the worst Mississippi has to offer.

Jackson native Natalie Irby is blogging about the Killen trial at jacksonfreepress.com

Previous Comments

ID
70159
Comment

Natalie, thanks for the courage, observation and insight to write this touching and powerful article. The only thing that could make me prouder of you would be if you were a Mississippi native. As I watched Mr. McIntyre, I immediately started to think I was watching the Kleagle (Killen) or founder (Forrest) of the Klan giving the closing argument for the defense. Thanks to Mr. McIntyre, the world saw again what Mississippi, still, has too many of - dumb, low-down, and clueless old rednecks or white supremacists. Do not fret if you're criticized for writing this, and do not be surprised if no other Mississippians thank you for writing this. Mississippi is still full of racists who sympathize with Killen, McIntyre, and the pitiful lacks and likes of them both. Why else are so few Mississians quite or silent after finally getting the Killen's monkey off our backs. Young lady, I urge you to keep on doing what is right and God will bless you and the State of Mississippi for doing it.

Author
Lanise
Date
2005-06-22T21:01:38-06:00
ID
70160
Comment

Natalie, I agree with everything you say about McIntyre. I want to press a little harder on how this case was pursued, however. I expect Killen's defense attorney to be the sort of racist that McIntyre proves himself to be. His statements are reasonably predictable, as far as I'm concerned. But let's look at how Jim Hood, the supposed emmissary of the victims' families conducted himself in the courtroom, too. The following is a short post from my blog: -- [http://minorjive.typepad.com/hungryblues/2005/06/mississippi_att.html] In his closing statements yesterday (http://www.djournal.com/pages/story.asp?ID=195727&pub=1&div=News), Mississippi AG Jim Hood revealed his overt insensitivity to the Chaney, Schwerner and Goodman families. "Some of you have asked why I am here. . . Because this is where justice is done. "I wish some of my predecessors had done their duty. I wouldn't have to be here, to have missed my daughterís second birthday." It would be extremely unprofessional for Jim Hood to complain about missing his daughter's second birthday during his closing statements in any court case. But does he hear himself?! There's been 41 missed birthdays for the families of the victims. Jim Hood also went so far as to desecrate what Chaney, Schwerner and Goodman stood for, by comparing the Southern Freedom Movement to Bush's war in Iraq: "They came down here doing God's work. They were here in peace. They werenít troublemakers. They were doing the same things that we are doing in Iraq ó fighting for people's freedoms. They showed a lot of courage. They were heroes for being here to grant people the freedom to vote." Jim Hood had the chutzpah to claim that another reason he showed up to make closing arguments (and not just leave it to DA Mark Duncan) was that "I wanted to be here myself, I didn't want to have any regrets. That I did my duty to the victims and their families." What a lying, insensitive boor. I'm pretty much ready to believe he was being insulting on purpose. But I guess when you've got an ego that big you probably manage to insult people all the time while you tell them how important you are to them. -- My blog post was written in the heat of anger on Tuesday. I stand by the assessment even if I'd moderate my tone were I to write it again. I say that Jim Hood is lying because he did not do his duty. He did not bring all the witnesses to the stand. He did not request help (i.e., evidence!!) from Justice Department and request a special prosecutor, as has been done in most of other civil rights era murder cases that have been reopened. Hood also did not give adequate time to reviewing the evidence for other possible indictments of the 9 other living suspects and has come out at various times and essentially admitted that he is purposefully pursuing Killen and only Killen. It is most definitely called for to call out the racism in men like McIntyre and Killen, who are obviously birds of a feather. But the real changes won't be won unless those who are charged with pursuing justice and change are held to a high standard. I would argue that Jim Hood's complicity in protecting white, racist murderers is actually more dangerous than the obvious, cartoonish stuff of McIntyre. We are at a dangerous crossroads where either Hood and Duncan's victory will be declared the coup de gras that allows Mississippi to move on or the conviction will be the first step in a bonafide process of pursuing truth and rendering justice. I worry that Hood and Duncan's actions suggest they lean toward the former when we need them to do the latter. They are the ones with power to decide which one it will be. McIntyre is just the foil for their heroic personae.

Author
Ben G.
Date
2005-06-22T23:02:02-06:00
ID
70161
Comment

Ben I have a lot of the same feelings. I don't want Hood and Duncan to claim too much credit for doing what duty and justice demanded and evil could not further delay. The families of the victims, the victims themselves, and the coalition of supporters are the real heroes. Everybody is a product of their enviroment. We have to either reject our enviroment or become damaged by it. I clearly saw that all of the attorneys had been damaged by Mississippi's virulent and protracted racism. I applaud Hood and Duncan for working hard, standing up to duty, and succeeding by the grace of God. Hood said in his press conference he wasn't blaming his predecessors. Clearly, he failed to understand the ramifications of this comment. Again, he's a product of the enviroment that he still doesn't have sense enough to reject.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2005-06-23T07:36:55-06:00
ID
70162
Comment

Ray, Thanks for your comment. As an opinionated outsider from Boston (whose father was a participant in the Southern Freedom Movement in Alabama), it is very helpful for me to hear comments from like minded people who live in the South. I like how you characterized Jim Hood; it humanizes him a little more than my critiques may allow. I would say (to all), however, that understanding that he is a product of his environment is reason why good people should pressure him to go further with what I hope are his genuine good intentions. I do not rule out the possibility that he and Duncan do not have our best interests at heart or (perhaps more likely) that they may be subject to very strong pressures to only go so far. Again good reasons for vocal and persistent advocacy for justice, to let them know the will of the people and that they will not be alone if they take the important next steps.

Author
Ben G.
Date
2005-06-23T07:52:09-06:00
ID
70163
Comment

Lanise wrote: The only thing that could make me prouder of you would be if you were a Mississippi native. Lanise, Natalie is a Mississippi native, as was our entire teamófour of usóreporting on the Neshoba trial. I grew up there; Natalie, Kate and Thabi grew up here in Jackson. I appreciate your points. I do want you to know how many people we've already heard from ó Mississippians all ó who LOVE Natalie's piece because it expresses the anger that so many of us feel at these idiots who make us all look, and perhaps feel, like racists. White Mississippians have not stood up nearly enough ó and there are all kinds of reasons and excuses for that, but none good enough ó but it's the future that matters. It can be our time if we make it our time. It's that simple.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-06-23T09:10:39-06:00
ID
70164
Comment

it's late, I'm just looking at this thread and it occurs to me, as I am also listenting to Buffy Sainte-Marie ,, that. it's late. ha. at night that is. but there has been so much good work done here, which is why I am listening to old folk music and thinking- so much harm was done and we have to think how much good we can start doing now. (and that's why this web/blog whatever board thing is so great. so I can say that.)

Author
sunshine
Date
2005-06-23T22:55:23-06:00
ID
70165
Comment

Good job, Natalie! Keep running your mouth - don't let anyone slow you down.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2005-06-25T22:21:11-06:00
ID
70166
Comment

McIntyre's remarks remind me of the reaction of (excuse the redundancy) jerks make disparaging, cruel, sarcastic remarks who overstep their bounds and get called on it. They get all defensive trying to justify their remarks by saying "Hey! Lighten Up, ok. It's just a joke" or "Where's your sense of humor?" and similar such lines (ok, not a perfect analogy, but McIntyre's remarks still qualify as trivialization of suffering)

Author
Philip
Date
2005-06-26T08:10:57-06:00
ID
70167
Comment

Philip, we can relate to that very well, for some bloggers around here are often guilty of the same behavior.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2005-06-26T11:19:33-06:00
ID
70168
Comment

Is that directed at me, L.W.?

Author
Ben G.
Date
2005-06-26T11:28:10-06:00
ID
70169
Comment

NO, it wasn't directed at anyone in particular.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2005-06-26T11:32:52-06:00
ID
70170
Comment

okay, just checking, since I'm the only person who identifies as a blogger in this thread (that I know of). Thanks for clarifying... Who were you thinking of?

Author
Ben G.
Date
2005-06-26T11:37:23-06:00
ID
70171
Comment

I would know it if I saw it...can't pinpoint it right now. I am not that familiar with your posts, so I know I wasn't referring to you.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2005-06-26T11:55:21-06:00
ID
70172
Comment

Ben, FWIW, blooger is a generic term used by most on these threads for those that are commenting and adding to the discussion. It's technically (according to original definition of (web)log and blogging) misused since the author should be considered the blogger and others, like Philip, L.W., me and you, are commenters...

Author
kaust
Date
2005-06-26T13:27:44-06:00
ID
70173
Comment

Thanks for clarifying, Knol. I think it would be in the best interest of this thread if we got back on the subject. Anyhoo, I remember when the Klan came to the courthouse to support their "fellow Christian brother in need" (and I HATE it when people use religion to justify hatred). McIntyre talked against them being there on camera, and I think it was only because their being there showed the true nature of Mr. Killen. How often do you see Klan members show up at a trial just to support someone that way, then at random at that? Well, the truth came out - Killen didn't just use those bedsheets for sleeping...

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2005-06-26T19:28:45-06:00
ID
70174
Comment

You are exactly right, L.W. I can probably dig up the article I read that reported that the Klan had officially forbidden demonstrations in support of Killen. McInttyre was trying to do damage control when some of them showed up anyway... Knol Aust, thanks for that point of clarification, which explains why I was misunderstanding L.W. I.e., I have a blog (which I referred to, above) and therefore consider myself a blogger. Anyway, like L.W. said, enough of all that....

Author
Ben G.
Date
2005-06-26T19:41:16-06:00
ID
70175
Comment

found the article: http://www.sunherald.com/mld/sunherald/11859107.htm here's and excerpt: Posted on Fri, Jun. 10, 2005 KICKER IDENTIFIES TRIAL Klan takes a stand Group won't tolerate any protests by its members By GEOFF PENDER PHILADELPHIA, Miss. - [email]capitalbureau@aol.com[/email] State and Neshoba County Ku Klux Klan leaders don't plan to cause a ruckus at Edgar Ray Killen's trial for the 1964 murders of three civil rights workers, because they fear any organized Klan protest would hurt Killen's case. Any Mississippi Klansmen doing anything beyond showing support for Killen as private citizens might face disciplinary action - such as expulsion from the Klan - said two leaders of one of the state's largest Klan groups. There are several Klan groups in the state, each with its own leadership. "If there's any Klan protest, it won't be any of us," said Richard Greene of Petal, Imperial Wizard of the Mississippi White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. "We don't believe it's appropriate. A man's life is at stake here. Any of us coming there will just be as citizens. No organized protest. Nothing Klan."

Author
Ben G.
Date
2005-06-26T20:26:08-06:00
ID
70176
Comment

Well, isn't that special? (with a Church Lady smirk) :-P

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2005-06-26T20:40:09-06:00

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