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Lawmakers want 1955 Mississippi murder reopened

Filmmaker claims new evidence in killing of black teenager

From Amita Nerurkar

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New York
Justice and Rights
Civil Rights

NEW YORK (CNN) -- A Brooklyn filmmaker says he has new evidence he believes could reopen the 1955 murder case of Emmett Till -- a 14-year-old African-American whose violent murder helped trigger the U.S. civil-rights movement of the late 1950s.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, and Rep. Charles Rangel, D-New York, have urged the federal government to re-examine Till's case based on the research of Keith Beauchamp, who said he has recorded several eyewitness accounts of the events surrounding the Till murder during the past nine years. Beauchamp is making a documentary film titled "The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till."

Till, a Chicago native, was visiting family in Money, Mississippi, in August 1955 when he allegedly whistled at a white woman. This led to Till's kidnapping and eventual brutal murder.

The case received national media attention and led to the trial of two white men, who were acquitted by an all-white jury. The men later confessed, but the case was never reopened. Both men have since died.

"I have interviewed witnesses who have never spoke out about the murder of Emmett Till before," Beauchamp said. "Some of them were young at the time. I have interviewed everyone ... (about) the day of the so-called wolf whistle.

"I have also interviewed the people that were in the house the night Emmett Till was abducted from his home," Beauchamp added. "So it's a lot of material such as that, that I have. And I think it will prove critical in getting this case reopened."

Beauchamp said the witnesses told him there were seven additional men tied to Till's murder, some of them still living.

He said he met with the U.S. attorney for the northern district of Mississippi, Jim Greenlee, in February to show him a rough cut of the documentary and urge him to reopen Till's case.

Greenlee's office referred CNN to the U.S. attorney general's office in Washington. A spokesman there did not immediately return a call for comment.

Schumer and Rangel said they want the case reopened in light of Beauchamp's interviews and research, and they plan a congressional resolution urging that action.

"The murder of Emmett Till was one of the seminal moments in our nation's civil-rights movement and the failure to bring his murderers to justice remains a stain on America's record of reconciliation," Schumer said. "Today, I call on Attorney General Ashcroft to fulfill the promise he made at his confirmation hearings to fully enforce America's civil-rights laws. In this rare instance, justice delayed may not be justice denied."

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