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Sens. Ossoff & Cruz Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Secure Justice for Civil Rights Cold Case Victims

Washington, D.C — Georgia U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff is working to secure justice for Civil Rights cold case victims and their families.

Today, Sens. Ossoff and Ted Cruz (R-TX) introduced the bipartisan Civil Rights Cold Case Investigations Support Act of 2022, which will help the Civil Rights Cold Case Records Review Board examine unsolved murders that occurred during the Civil Rights era. 

“The victims of lynchings and unsolved civil rights crimes deserve justice. So do their families. That’s why I’ll fight to pass my civil rights cold case legislation as soon as possible,” Sen. Ossoff said.

“I am pleased to work with Sen. Ossoff and Rep. Bobby Rush on this important bill to extend the tenure of the Civil Rights Cold Case Review Board to investigate unsolved murders and other crimes that involved the targeting of African Americans between 1940-1979,”Sen. Cruz said. “During the Civil Rights movement, there were far too many unsolved violent race-based crimes committed against African Americans. It’s my hope that by giving the Review Board more time to examine the case files related to these unsolved crimes, we can shed sunlight on these Civil Rights cold cases and finally bring justice to the victims and their families.”

While the Review Board was formally authorized and signed into law by former President Donald Trump in 2019, Board members were not nominated until last year.

Currently, the Review Board is authorized to work through 2024. The new bill will extend their term through 2027 to ensure that, once confirmed, the Board members have enough time to do their jobs.

Sen. Ossoff reiterated his firm support for the Civil Rights Cold Case Records Review Board during a confirmation hearing last month.

He specifically highlighted several Georgia cases, including those of Alphonso Harris, a member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference who was murdered in Albany, Georgia in 1966; Ernest Hunter, who was killed in a physical altercation at the Camden County jail in St. Mary’s in 1958; and Caleb Hill, Jr., who was pulled from Wilkinson County jail in middle Georgia in the middle of the night in 1949 and shot to death by a lynch mob.

In the hearing, Sen. Ossoff secured commitments from all four Civil Rights Cold Case Records Review Board nominees, two of whom are from Georgia, to work with him to pursue the facts of cold cases in Georgia and bring justice.

Congressman Bobby L. Rush, the original House sponsor of the Civil Rights Cold Case Records Collection Act, will soon be introducing companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

“While it is too late to bring back the Black men and women murdered during the civil rights era in racist acts of terror, it is not too late to bring answers and closure to families of victims who never saw justice. I am pleased that President Biden nominated members to the Review Board and that the Senate has begun the confirmation process, but it is apparent that the Board will need more than one year to carry out the necessary and important work it was intended to have a minimum of four years to complete,” Congressman Rush said. “I thank my colleague Senator Ossoff for leading this commonsense effort to restore Review Board’s full term and look forward to introducing companion legislation in the House in the coming days.”

Click here to read the Civil Rights Cold Case Investigations Support Act of 2022.

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