Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act
WHEREAS, the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act ("the Act") was introduced on February 8, 2007 by Representative John Lewis (GA) and Senator Christopher Dodd (CT), with multiple bi-partisan co-sponsors, including then Senator Barack Obama -IL); and
WHEREAS, the NAACP actively promoted the enactment by the United States Congress of the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act of 2008; and
WHEREAS, the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act was signed into law by President George W. Bush as Public Law #110-344 on October 7, 2008; and
WHEREAS, the law instructs the FBI and other entities within the United States Department of Justice, to "(1) expeditiously investigate unsolved civil rights murders, due to the amount of time that has passed since the murders and the age of potential witnesses; and (2) provide all the resources necessary to ensure timely and thorough investigations in the cases involved"; and
WHEREAS, the Act also instructs the Attorney General to designate a Deputy Chief in the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division to coordinate the implementation of the law and further authorized appropriations of up to $10 million each year from 2008 until 2017 to be allocated to further this mandate; and
WHEREAS, no Attorney General has requested the entire $10 million authorized in the Act; and
WHEREAS, no joint task forces or concerted federal and local law enforcement agencies have engaged in a serious effort to identify, or account for all of those who disappeared or who were killed during the period between 1954 to 1969; and
WHEREAS, of the 107 cases identified in the Attorney General's 2009 Annual Report to Congress as being "open", the United States Department of Justice closed 14 within six months of the Act's passage; and
WHEREAS, in the ensuing three years the Department opened only two additional cases, but closed 89 cases wherein the identified suspects were deceased (including the deaths of Harry and Harriett Moore) or the cause of death was determined not to be racially motivated; and
WHEREAS, after closing 75% of the cases, the Department only has 27 open cases remaining on its list; and
WHEREAS, all four Annual Reports to Congress made by the United States Justice Department contain lengthy and repetitive summaries of actions taken and successes achieved prior to the Act and very little description of thorough investigation of existing cases since the implementation of the Act, nor any specific law enforcement field investigative activities seeking to identify individuals who disappeared or were killed during this time period; and
WHEREAS, Congress authorized the appropriation of millions of dollars in grant money to State and local law enforcement as well as Community Relations Services of U.S. Department of Justice to assist with collaboration between law enforcement agencies and local communities in the investigation of these crimes, which have been underutilized or not used at all; and
WHEREAS, the NAACP is concerned that the United States Department of Justice has closed cases in which there may still be members of various Klan and other hate groups and organizations who participated in these killings who are still alive.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the NAACP calls upon the U.S. Attorney General to fully implement the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act, including but not limited to: (1) Immediately establish task forces of federal and state law enforcement to expeditiously and thoroughly investigate, not just review, unsolved civil rights killings; (2) Immediately seek allocation of resources from the Congressional Appropriations Committee for the necessary appropriations funds already authorized by the Act; (3) Advocate for monetary support and involvement of local law enforcement agencies and civil rights groups in the attempts to identify and investigate these unsolved civil rights era killings as contemplated by the Act; (4) Reopen all cases where a paper review of old investigatory files represent the sole means of a current investigation; (5) Provide unedited files to the families of all closed cases through expedited Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests; (6) Appoint an independent federal prosecutor to coordinate the full accounting, investigation and prosecution of cases under the Act; and (7) Provide for oversight hearings by the appropriate Congressional committees of the on-going activities of the United States Department of Justice and FBI in fulfilling the mandate of the Act.