Schwerner's murder occurred near the town of Philadelphia, Mississippi. He and fellow workers James Chaney and Andrew Goodman were investigating the burning of Mt. Zion Methodist Church, which had been a site for a CORE Freedom School. Parishioners had been beaten in the wake of Schwerner and Chaney's voter registration rallies for CORE. The Sheriff's Deputy, Cecil Price, had been accused by parishioners of stopping their caravan, and forcing the deacons to kneel in the headlights of their own cars, while they were beaten with rifle butts. That same group was identified as the burners of the church.
The three (Chaney, Schwerner and Goodman) were arrested by Deputy Sheriff Cecil Price for an alleged traffic violation and taken to the jail in Neshoba County. They were released that evening, without being allowed to telephone anyone. On the way back to Meridian, they were stopped by two carloads of KKK members on a remote rural road. The men approached their car, then shot and killed Schwerner, then Goodman, and finally Chaney, after chain-whipping and mutilating him.
The men's bodies remained undiscovered for nearly two months. In the meantime, the case of the missing civil-rights workers became a major national story, especially coming on top of other events during Freedom Summer. Rivers were dredged and bodies of other murdered Negro men and women were discovered, but they were not investigated then.
Schwerner's widow Rita, who also worked for CORE in Meridian, expressed indignation publicly at the way the story was handled. She said she believed that if only Chaney (who was black) were missing and not two white men from New York along with him, the case would not have received nearly as much attention.
Read more about this topic: Michael Schwerner
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