CNN is reporting that this case - which represented a brutal period in Atlanta's history - is being reopened.
I mention it here because after doing a fair amount of research several years ago, I was left with the strong impression that Williams is innocent, that he was railroaded as a black man in part to shut up the hue and cry from the blacks of Atlanta whose children were being murdered in droves. The only "concrete" evidence against Williams, besides the prosecution's painting him as a very strange guy, was an officer's "odd" recollection of something hitting the water beneath a bridge where a spot check had been set up. One of the bodies was then found.
In truth, I suspect a racist group of multiple individuals was behind the deaths. Williams was only arrested when Bush I, then VP, basically rode into town and told the cops to find someone, anyone, to prosecute. To have it be a black man was just icing on the cake to the white men who wanted this "embarrassment" over. Williams was a very convenient choice. That he was an "uppity black" probably made it especially tasty to some.
CNN cites 29 deaths but, in point of fact, there were far more deaths, many of whom never made it onto the official list. The manner of deaths, the age of the victims, and other circumstances differed wildly. But the more you read, the more you realize how much was covered up.
Whatever comes of this case, it should never be forgotten. The terror that reigned in Atlanta was so palpable, and yet it made it into the nation's awareness only after years of this went on. That a grave injustice perhaps was also done to Williams makes it worse.
For those with some interest, I recommend two books: one fiction, one not.
- * Toni Cade Bambera's "These Bones are Not My Child" (extremely compelling novel), and
* "The Atlanta Youth Child Murders and the Politics of Race"