The victims of the 1970 shootings, on what was then the Jackson State College campus were honored in a special ceremony at Jackson State University Thursday morning.
Two young men were shot and killed and several others were injured, after Jackson Police and Mississippi Highway Patrolmen opened up gunfire on campus. To this day, no has paid the price for the bloodshed, but that could change.
WLBT News film from May 1970 shows the gruesome aftermath of the Jackson State College campus shootings. Hundreds of bullets pierced the windows of Alexander Hall. In the end, Phillip Lafayette Gibbs and James Earl Green were killed. Twelve other students were also shot. Class of 1970 Senior James "Lap" Baker witnessed it all.
"I was on the B.F. Roberts side of Lynch Street and hit the ground and crawled and all I could see was fire going over my head," Baker told WLBT News.
In less than 30 seconds, officers shot 460 rounds into campus. Forty-two years later you can still see some of the bullet grazings on the outside of Alexander Hall.
The officers had been called to campus after students complained of harassment from white motorists driving down Lynch Street. Jesse Thompson was a Freshman in 1970. Thompson said one of the most disappointing aspects of the shootings is that no one has ever been indicted.
"In my opinion justice was not served nobody paid for that," said Thompson.
Although forty-two years have passed, JSU Political Science Professor Michelle Deardorff said those responsible can still be prosecuted.
"Because the state did not bring charges previously there's not an acquittal so there's no reason charges can't be brought now," Deardorff told WLBT News.
The federal government can also step in. Under a federal civil rights act, the federal government has the right to prosecute state officers who deprive citizens of their civil rights.
"But that's been open for the federal government to do for the entire 42 years so the fact it hasn't happened may indicate no interest to do so," said Deardorff.
Despite justice not being served, a crowd gathered in celebration at JSU to unveil a Freedom Trail Marker. It honors the innocent victims of the 1970 shootings. The Jackson State University Freedom Trail Marker is the sixth one throughout the state. The state's trail markers commemorate Mississippi's rich civil rights history.
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