Tennessee Civil Rights crime committee hopes to be model for nation

Tennessee State Capitol Generic
(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A Tennessee legislative committee looking into Civil Rights era crimes hopes to be a model for the nation as group of high-powered attorneys and law students have joined the effort as volunteers.

The committee just wrapped up two days of hearings that laid out where its going during the next couple of months.

While the committee has already heard some of stories, there are many out there from a time when Tennessee was segregated.

Murders or lynchings of African-Americans were at times ignored and witnesses silenced by threats against them.

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Former federal prosecutor Alex Little leads a coalition of attorneys and law students from across the state who have agreed to voluntarily help the committee look into those crimes often well known for decades in African American communities.

Legislation passed earlier this year by the Tennessee General Assembly created the committee.

“It’s a bill that is unique in the United States,” he told News 2. “I think it has an opportunity to inform the General Assembly about these issues.

Little, along with lawyer Jim Emison of Alamo, Tennessee, told the committee they will also make recommendations about whether their findings can be prosecuted and how.

“This is a great opportunity in Tennessee, for Tennesseans and for others as a model to follow,” added Emison before the committee.

The committee has an ambitious timetable with a report due the end of the year.

Little added that every law school in Tennessee has volunteered to provide some assistance.