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July 11, 1997 2:00 AM
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FBI To Reopen "Little Girls" Case -- Subject Of New Spike Lee Documentary

FBI To Reopen "Little Girls" Case -- Subject Of New Spike Lee Documentary

by Mary Sampson





At a press conference in New York City yesterday, Spike Lee announced that
the FBI is reopening the case investigating the 1963
bombing of a black church in Birmingham Alabama, that resulted in the
deaths of four young girls. The FBI's announcement
came on the same day Lee's documentary, "4 Little Girls", which
examines the facts and emotions surrounding the murders,
opened theatrically.


Lee declined to draw the conclusion that the film had anything
to do with the decision by the FBI to reopen the case. Instead,
he pointed to the heightened awareness the U.S. Government is
giving to race relations (past and present) under the Clinton
Administration. "They (the FBI) get their marching papers from
somebody," Lee stated, "I don't think those guys just sit around
and one day decide, 'Hey let's re-open that 32 year old case we
have'."


In "4 Little Girls", Lee notes that it took authorities 13 to
14 years to make the first arrest. He then documents evidence
that others connected to the crime have never been charged; three
other men are said to have been involved.


Lee, whose father is from Alabama, says he first heard of the
crime while he was growing up. His interest was re-kindled
while in film school at NYU. He says he is optimistic about
the outcome of the case, now re-opened, "I think there will
be arrests."


He said he was told the FBI has been secretly investigating
the crime for about a year now. He declined to speculate on
what led the agency to announce the investigation publicly
on the opening day of his film. Instead, the veteran
filmmaker pleaded for people to come out to see the documentary.
He looked at the ticket line forming behind him at the
Film Forum and joked, "We're doing pretty good so far.
We're only 85 million behind "Men in Black"."

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