Department of Justice Seal

Prepared Remarks of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales
at the Press Conference on Civil Rights Cold Cases

Washington, D.C.
February 27, 2007

Good morning. I am joined today by FBI Director Bob Mueller, John Jackson of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Richard Cohen of the Southern Poverty Law Center, Stephanie Jones of the National Urban League, and Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Wan Kim.

One month ago I stood before you and announced an indictment in the abduction and murders of two African-American men in 1964. That indictment came as part of the Department of Justice’s efforts to focus on cold cases from the civil rights era.

In 2006, the FBI began its Cold Case Initiative to identify and investigate murders committed during our Nation's Civil Rights era. It is noteworthy as Black History Month concludes that we announce the next phase of this initiative: a more formal partnership with these groups to identify possible additional cases for investigation and to solicit their help. They have already provided us with valuable information from their files and we are committed to following, and will follow, those and future leads wherever they take us. We know that not every case will be resolved. In some cases the perpetrators may already be dead. In some cases we may find no federal jurisdiction. But these unsolved crimes remain on our radar, and through these expanded lines of communication we hope we can bring closure to some of these cases.

If we are to succeed we must work as a team, and the help of our partners will be crucial as we continue to search for the evidence to help us close these cases. Their dedication to this cause has been tireless, and we are proud to work with them on this. As we saw in the case last month, new information – sometimes an innocuous small bit of information -- can be crucial to breaking these decades-old cases. A secret harbored for many years can be the piece of evidence we need to make our case.

I would like to thank Director Mueller for the leadership role played by the FBI, and Assistant Attorney General Kim for the persistence and dedication of his staff in the Civil Rights Division. This effort is a testament to the best traditions of public service and a sign of just how seriously the Department of Justice takes the enforcement of our civil rights laws.

Much time has passed on these crimes; the wounds they left are deep, and many of them still have not healed. But we are committed to re-examining these cases and doing all we can to bring justice to the criminals who may have avoided punishment for so long.

To those individuals who committed these crimes, and who have lived with their guilty consciences for these many years, our message should be clear: You have not gotten away with anything. We are still on your trail.

Now we will hear from Director Mueller.