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FBI Pleads for Public Help to Solve about 43 Civil-Rights Era Murders in Miss.

The FBI is turning to the public,  calling for help to bring some justice to a painful era of decades past. Will the calls fall on deaf ears? Very possible, but FBI director Robert Mueller III said he isn’t giving up.

By TIMOTHY R. BROWN
Associated Press Writer
JACKSON, Miss. — The FBI pleaded for information Thursday about 43 unsolved civil rights-era slayings in Mississippi, saying time is running out because potential witnesses and suspects are growing old or dying.
The agency launched an initiative in 2006 to tackle cold cases from the mid-1950s to the late and 1960s, mostly in the South. Though the effort hasn’t resulted in any new prosecutions, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III said his agency remains committed to it.
Officials from several state and federal agencies joined together in Mississippi to issue a call for help from the public.
“We owe it to the victims. We owe to the people,” said Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood. “We owe it to future generations to know that we did everything we possibly could.”
Last year, President George W. Bush signed the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act, which gives the Justice Department more money to investigate such crimes.
Till was a black teenager slain in Mississippi in 1955 after being accused of whistling at a white woman. No one has been convicted.
A grand jury examined evidence from a three-year FBI investigation but in 2007 declined to issue indictments.
U.S. Attorney Jim M. Greenlee, who handled the case, said even though no one was prosecuted, a grand jury saw all the evidence.
“We just couldn’t find any way of finding a federal crime (in the Till case), but I think that the process was … good,” Greenlee said. “You have to read through everything. It’s easy for people to say that they know this happened, but that’s hearsay. You have to find someone who actually saw it who can remember it. And then you’ve got to corroborate that.”
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