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Indictment for Shooting that Changed History

Posted May 10, 2007 9:19 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The district attorney wasn’t releasing the name of the man indicted yesterday for a 1965 killing in Alabama that helped inspire a 1965 civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery.

But the lawyer for retired police officer James B. Fowler told the New York Times that the indictment likely names his client, who has acknowledged shooting a voting rights demonstrator. Fowler says he acted in self-defense when he shot Jimmie Lee Jackson; historical accounts say Jackson was shot as he lunged to protect his mother from a police attack.

Prosecutor Michael W. Jackson of Selma, the only African-American district attorney in Alabama, said the shooting changed history.

“It’s a very important case, because his death led to the voting rights march,” he told the newspaper. “This event helped trigger the Voting Rights Act, which helped enfranchise a lot of people. I’m a direct benefit of it.”

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