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American Scene

- - Sunday, March 13, 2011

ALABAMA

1965 killing of minister probed

MONTGOMERY | The FBI's Cold Case Initiative is investigating the 46-year-old case of a Massachusetts minister who was beaten to death in Alabama while doing civil rights work, a spokesman said Friday.

The Rev. James Reeb, a Unitarian Universalist minister from Boston, was among a group of ministers who traveled to Alabama in response to the Rev. Martin Luther King's invitation to join the Selma-to-Montgomery march.

The FBI launched an initiative in 2007 to investigate unsolved murders from the civil rights era. A spokesman with the agency, Chris Allen, said Reeb's case is one that is currently open.

Reeb and two other white ministers had just finished dinner at a historically black restaurant in downtown Selma when they were attacked by a gang of whites on March 9, 1965. The city was a center for voting rights demonstrations by blacks and white supporters at the time.

Reeb, 38, died two days later, leaving behind a wife and four children. Three white men — Elmer Cook, William Stanley Hoggle and Namon O'Neal "Duck" Hoggle — were tried on state murder charges and acquitted by an all-white jury.

CALIFORNIA

Jewish ritual disturbs plane

LOS ANGELES | Pilots on an Alaska Airlines flight locked down the cockpit and alerted authorities after three passengers conducted an elaborate orthodox Jewish prayer ritual during their Los Angeles-bound flight.

Airline spokeswoman Bobbie Egan says the crew of Flight 241 from Mexico City became alarmed Sunday after the men began the ritual, which involves tying leather straps and small wooden boxes to the body.

FBI and customs agents, along with police and fire crews, met the plane at the gate at Los Angeles International Airport.

Airport police say two or three men were escorted off the plane, questioned by the FBI, and released. No arrests were made.

GEORGIA

Ex-judge in stripper, drug case sentenced

ATLANTA | A former federal judge ensnared in a scandal involving drugs and a stripper, was sentenced Friday to 30 days in prison and 400 hours of community service.

Senior U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan said he could not give a sentence of only probation because Jack Camp had breached his oath of office.

"He has disgraced his office," Judge Hogan said. "He has denigrated the federal judiciary. He has encouraged disrespect for the rule of law."

Before being sentenced, Camp apologized for what he had done and thanked his family and friends, many of whom filled the courtroom.

As a judge, Camp often meted out harsh sentences and rarely gave breaks to defendants who presented mitigating circumstances to explain their conduct. On Friday, Judge Hogan was asked by Camp's lawyers to grant leniency because of the ex-judge's decades-long battle with a bipolar disorder and brain damage caused by a 2000 biking accident.

NEW YORK

City to release waterfront plan

NEW YORK | New York City's first waterfront plan in two decades envisions a metropolis where residents relax by fishing or biking in parks, kayak in the Hudson River, commute by ferry, and buy items that were brought to their neighborhood via barge.

The Bloomberg administration is announcing the plan Monday. It would also overhaul the city's sewage system so that it would push human waste into the river less frequently when it rains. And it would help expand the city's maritime industry, in part by dredging waterways to make room for giant ships that are rarely seen on the East Coast.

The first stages of the effort are expected to cost the city more than $3 billion over the next three years, with most of the money going to wastewater infrastructure.

From wire dispatches and staff reports