The Ku Klux Klan emerged after the Civil War in America. They are known today as America’s first true terrorist groups. This group is a well known racist and anti-Semitic group with a commitment to extreme violence to achieve their goals of racial segregation and white supremacy. They strongly fight for their ideology of white supremacy which led them to involve in various criminal activities and hate crimes and even acts of domestic terrorism.
The main focus before of their anger and violence are the black Americans or the African-Americans and also for the white Americans who support for their rights. They perceived these minority groups as one of their strong enemies and threats especially in direct economic competition with lower and working class whites. (Anti-Defamation League, 2008) The 1988 movie Mississippi Burning was the film version of the actual murder of three civil rights workers in the state of Mississippi in the year 1964.
On May of 1964, Sam Bowers the imperial leader of the white knights of the KKK (Ku Klux Klan) spread a word to the Klansmen of Lauderdale and Neshoba Counties that it was time to activate “plan 4” which described the elimination of the despised civil rights activist “Michael Schwerner” who they called “Goatee” and “Jew-boy”. Schwerner had earned the enmity of the Klan by organizing a black boycott of a white-owned business and aggressively trying to register blacks in and around Meridian to vote. (Linder, n. d. ) June 16, 1964 was their first attempt to eliminate Schwerner.
In the rural Neshoba county community of Longdale, Schwerner had visited during Memorial Day to ask permission of the black congregation at Mount Zion church to use their church as the site of Freedom School. The Klan knew of Schwerner’s Memorial Day visit to Longdale and expected him to return. Frustrated when their search for him was unsuccessful, some members began beating the departing blacks. Ten gallons of gasoline were removed from one of the Klan member’s cars and spread around the inside of the church. Mount Zion church was soon engulfed in flames. Longdale in Neshoba County was known as a high risk area for civil rights workers.
Lawrence Rainey, Neshoba county sheriff and his Deputy Cecil Price were both members of the Klan. Although their Klan membership was not generally known, both had reputations as being tough on blacks. Michael Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman began their Midsummer’s Day visit to Neshoba County to have inspection of the burned out remains of Mount Zion Church. About 3 p. m. the three was ready to head back to the relative safety of their Meridian office. The most direct route was the road they had come up, Highway 491, a narrow clay road intersected by numerous dirt roads.
Ambush would be easy on 491. The other less direct route was on Highway 16. Deputy Sherriff Price was at that time heading east on Highway 16. Price spotted the well-known CORE wagon heading in his direction. Price arrested the three and deposited them in Neshoba county jail. Soon thereafter he met with the Neshoba county Klan recruiter Edgar Ray Killen to tell him of his exciting catch and to plan the deadly conspiracy that would unfold later that night. It was not known if the three were beaten before they were killed. Wayne Roberts was the triggerman that first shot Schwerner, then Goodman, then Chaney.
The bodies of the three civil rights workers were then taken to a dam site at the 253-acre Old Jolly Farm. (Linder, n. d. ) Is It Terrorism Or A Crime? Terrorism involves the calculated use of violence or the threat of violence against civilians or individuals in order for the group or organization to attain their political or religious or ideological goals. This is mostly done through intimidation or coercion or instilling of fear among the people. This incident was an example of domestic terrorism which took place in the south of America.
This group has used crimes and murder to terrorize the people in their local place, to show supremacy and authority against minority groups and also to earn publicity or recognition. The Klan has a relatively high association with criminal activity ranging from hate crimes to acts of domestic terrorism. Therefore most members of this group are from one way or another are involve and can be held responsible in various terrorist acts of the group. The FBI Investigations The following day after the civil rights workers was reportedly missing. The Meridian based FBI agent John Proctor started the investigation.
Proctor went to Neshoba county interviewing blacks, community leaders, Sheriff Rainey and Deputy Price about the incident. The first big break in the FBI investigation came when Proctor received a tip that a smoldering car had been seen in the northern Neshoba County which is the burned blue CORE station wagon. They called it MIBURN for Mississippi Burning. The FBI agent worked together with Joseph Sullivan, the FBI agent’s major case inspector. The federal military had joined the search operation. It soon became apparent to inspector Sullivan that the case should be solved by conducting investigation.
Proctor found many residents silent and secretive that is why most of the information came from kids. A reward of $ 30,000 finally brought forward information. In the movie, the FBI agents became deplorable after they handled roughly the potential suspects and witness. Informant Gregory Scarpa reportedly stuck a gun down the mouth of a local appliance salesman and KKK member. The mayor was also threatened with castration by a black agent while holding a double-edged razor blade. Their reason for doing that came from their belief that it was for the benefit and greater good of the victims.
The FBI should have handled the case by being more responsible and just during their investigations and interrogations. They have done much better if they have responded much earlier therefore preventing the crime to happen. (Linder, n. d. ) References Linder, D. , (2007). “The Mississippi Burning Trial (U. S. vs. Price et al. ). ” Famous Trials. Retrieved October 7, 2008, from http://www. law. umkc. edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/price&bowers/price&bowers. htm “About The Ku Klux Klan. ” (2008). Anti-Defamation League: Extremism in America. Retrieved October 9, 2008, from http://www. adl. org/