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Censoring our bloody past 

click to enlarge Thomas Moore, on the cover of the Aug. 4 Independent.
  • Thomas Moore, on the cover of the Aug. 4 Independent.

Censoring our bloody past Congratulations to the Gazette for finally picking up on the story of Thomas Moore, the Colorado Springs man who is seeking justice for his murdered brother and friend.

Charles Moore and Henry Dee, authorities believe, were killed in 1964 by the Ku Klux Klan in Franklin County, Miss. They were tied to a tree, beaten bloody and senseless with thick poles, and dumped into the Mississippi River, their bodies weighted down with an old Jeep block.

Early the next year, the FBI arrested James Ford Seale and Charles Marcus Edwards. They confessed to the crime, but the district attorney in the rural county soon dropped the charges.

In 1998, Moore, a retired Army sergeant in Colorado Springs, began what has become a seven-year-long quest to have Seale and Edwards, who still are alive and living in Franklin County, held accountable for their actions.

This summer, the U.S. attorney in Mississippi reopened the case.

Moores efforts have been chronicled by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. Multiple stories have appeared in the New York Times and other publications, including the Independent, where he was featured prominently on the Aug. 4 cover. (Our story can be read online at csindy.com/csindy/2005-08-04/cover.html.)

So its nice that the Gazette finally got around to covering the story on Oct. 3. In its version, reporter R. Scott Rappold made passing reference to the weekly newspaper in Moores hometown of Meadville, Miss., which has decided not to publish any stories about the investigation into the heinous murder.

Its too bad that the Gazette opted not to flesh out that interesting little nugget, so allow us.

On the front page -- the front page! -- of its July 28 issue, Mary Lou Webb, the editor of the Franklin Advocate, wrote a short note explaining to her readers why her paper would not cover what she referred to as "1960s racial incidents." This is Webbs editorial, in full.

"The Franklin Advocate has weighed the issues and decided not to 're-visit the 1960s racial incidents which took place in this county and Southwest Mississippi.

"The editor sees no new evidence -- no reason -- to put a new generation through painful memories.

"In less than two weeks Franklin County children will be in school -- preparing for the future while making new friends. How precious those friendships will grow as time passes.

"Halfway around the world our young people are dying because their young people were not allowed to forgive and forget.

"Let that not be the legacy we leave our children."

Webbs convoluted rationale left Moores jaw hanging. After he learned of the editors note, Moore responded with a lengthy, passionate letter to Webb. Here are some excerpts:

"Your desire and efforts to censor our angry, bloody past, remove it from history, misinform and misguide our children, will only fan the small flames of justice I have helped to rekindle throughout Franklin County this summer," Moore predicted.

"You see no new evidence because your eyes are closed. Listen to the people of Franklin County and you will not only see new evidence, you will hear it, smell it, and breathe it in. The palpable fear I found in the people of Franklin County, black and white, is all the evidence needed. You know that justice must be done to begin the process of removing this fear."

Moore, who served two tours in Vietnam, and also in Korea and in Panama, addressed the editors comparison of rural Mississippi to the theater of the war on terror.

"I say we still have terrorists living ... in Franklin County," Moore wrote. "What is the difference between someone who blows themselves up to kill their enemy and someone who chains two souls to a jeep motor and throws them into the Mississippi River after torturing them and whipping them?

"These same people terrorized the black and white communities through coordinated efforts of cross burnings, propaganda and whisper campaigns, beatings, murders and explosions.

"The Klan and its supporters were and are as fundamentalist in their beliefs and actions as the suicide bombers weve seen in Iraq.

"Mary Lou, there is no difference."

-- degette@csindy.com

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