Group speaks out on Jackson case

Published 10:50 pm Friday, February 18, 2011

Faya Rose Toure speaks to a conglomeration of groups who gathered in Selma Friday morning to express their dissatisfaction with the sentence of James Bernard Fowler. The group later travelled to Geneva County, where Fowler is being held. -- Desiree Taylor

A coalition of groups, one from Mississippi say they’re dissatisfied with the punishment of self-confessed killer of Jimmie Lee Jackson, James Bonard Fowler.

Representatives from the Ancient Africa, Enslavement and Civil War Museum, the Bridge Crossing Jubilee headquarters and the Mississippi Workers Center gathered at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge Friday, to mount a protest against what they see as an unbalanced judicial system.

“We’re standing up for justice for Jimmie Lee Jackson,” said attorney Faya Rose Toure’ Sanders, who spearheaded the event. “We stand against all injustices, not just whites against African-Americans but African-Americans against African-Americans as well. It’s important that we raise our voices loud.”

Email newsletter signup

On the evening of Feb. 18, 1965, Jackson, a Marion-native joined other African-American demonstrators to protest the jailing of a local Southern Christian Leadership Conference official. Alabama state troopers and local law enforcement responded to the protest with force, chasing many of the activists into Mack’s Café, a restaurant near the movement’s headquarter at Zion’s Chapel Methodist Church. Jackson attempted to protect both his mother and grandfather from the police brutality but was beaten himself and fatally shot in the stomach by trooper Fowler.

Jackson was transported to the Perry County Hospital and then transferred to Good Samaritan Hospital in Selma where he died a week later from gunshot wounds. Jackson’s death paved the way for the Selma-to-Montgomery marches and the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Fowler plead guilty to manslaughter in the second degree late last year in Perry County and circuit judge Tommy Jones sentenced him to serve six months in prison and six months community service for Jackson’s murder.

“He’s in jail as we speak,” said district attorney Michael Jackson, who worked to bring the case to trial for three years. “He’s the only law enforcement official serving time in jail for crimes committed during the civil rights era.”

The Rev. Franklin Fortier, president of SCLC of Dallas County, agrees justice must be served.

“We no longer want to stand for criminal injustice,” Fortier said. “We value African-American life and our history and we know if it weren’t for Jackson, that we may not have a black president today.”

Jaribu Hill, attorney and executive director for the Mississippi Workers Center for Human Rights, said Bonard’s sentence is unfair and he should be serving more time.

“How can Fowler escape justice?” Hill said. “We won’t allow this injustice, never again.”

Jackson believes the community should be more concerned about youth violence rather than Fowler’s sentence.

“If we’re going to march,” Jackson said. “We need to focus on the violence these young people are committing instead of crying over an 80-year-old man in jail.”

A caravan of supporters rode in a van marked, “I remember Jimmie Jackson…register and vote” to the Geneva County Jail where Fowler is serving his sentence, with plans to continue protests.