May 12, 1967 was the morning that Benjamin Brown, a young truck driver from Jackson, Mississippi, breathed his last. It is also a crime where no one was held responsible.
Benjamin Brown was leaving the Kon-Tiki restaurant on 1017 J.R Lynch Street the night of May 11. That night there the police were out to control a protest. Brown, an activist involved with the Freedom Corps, was on Lynch Street for something else entirely. According to the Jackson City Council’s 1995 resolution, Brown was there to pick up a sandwich for his wife and wasn’t involved in the ongoing protest.
There was a group of men throwing rocks and advancing toward the police. When the police opened fire on the group, Brown fled where he was shot in the back of the head, back, and leg. His body would remain in street near Mt. Olive Cemetery for 45 minutes before he was treated. Unfortunately, he would die at 4:42 AM on May 12, the day he turned 22.
Investigation and Resolution
The FBI investigation at the time found that two office shot to kill and maim and not over the heads of protesters. Despite this finding, there was no legal action from the government. There was no trial, no one was sent to prison and for some time nothing was done for the family by the state or the U.S. It wouldn’t be until 1995 when Jackson’s city council found that a police officer, who had died by that point, was responsible for Benjamin Brown’s death. As a result, the family got a small settlement.
Unsurprisingly, today there are a number of incidents like Benjamin Brown throughout the South where a resolution wasn’t found until decades later. There is a park in Jackson, Mississippi named in Brown’s honor.