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    Cold Case Justice Initiative: Recent Killings Just Continuation of a Trend

    April 15, 2015

    Photo: Professors Paula Johnson and Janis McDonald

    Cold Case Justice Initiative: Recent Killings Just Continuation of a Trend

    Syracuse, NY—As part of a summary released today by the United Nations Human Rights Council Working Group and prepared by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Cold Case Justice Initiative (CCJI) has called upon the U.S. Attorney General to provide all the resources necessary to ensure timely and thorough investigations of unsolved civil rights murders. It emphasized that, while a number of recent shootings of mostly unarmed black victims by police officers have been highly publicized, such incidents date back many years, and most are still unsolved.

    The CCJI today released six accounts of suspicious police homicides of mostly unarmed black victims dating from the 1950s and 1960s to journalists. The information discovered by CCJI on each of these killings was submitted to the Department of Justice in late 2012 as part of a list of 196 suspicious racist homicides it claimed should be added to investigations under the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act. “While these homicides are virtually identical to recent highly publicized police shootings surrounding the deaths of Walter Scott, Eric Garner, Michael Brown and others, the Department of Justice has not added a single one of these killings to the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes Act of 2007,” say CCJI co-directors Janis McDonald and Paula Johnson. 

    “The recent spate of killings is part of a continued racist treatment of people of color by members of U.S. law enforcement,” the CCJI co-directors continue in a statement. “We took evidence to the United Nations less than four weeks ago, hoping that it would take up these concerns during its UPR inquiry of human rights violations in the United States, and are glad to see it is reflected in today's summary document.”

    The CCJI, its partners Georgia Peace & Justice Coalition and Southern Christian Leadership Conference, along with the U.S. Human Rights Network, are included as stakeholders in the working group’s 23-page summary document, which was drafted for the UNHRC's Universal Periodic Review inquiry of human rights violations in the United States.

    “Besides the passage of time, what separates the cases from the earlier era and today is the critical advent of camera-equipped phones and social media,” says the CCJI’s statement. “We must be grateful for the passerby who took the footage of the shooting by Officer Slager, but we must not forget the other countless victims’ before him.”