"I felt, and others did too, if those in power really wanted to know who killed him, they would have found out. It would be good to have closure." That's retired Rev. Sam McKinney of Mt. Zion Baptist Church on KUOW yesterday, recalling the assassination of Seattle Urban League director Edwin Pratt.
The NPR station's report, spurred by Seattle Weekly's May cover story on Pratt's officially unsolved cold-case murder, includes historical audio from 1969, when a white assassin shot the black leader on his Shoreline doorstep. Reporter Liz Jones also notes that "detectives have recently moved away from the idea that Pratt's death was linked to the civil-rights movement. But the motive is still unclear."As SW reported, detectives think gunman Tommy Kirk was hired by a black Seattle contractor, whose motive may have grown out of an internal struggle among blacks over union jobs.
However, as Jones notes, a witness who was with Kirk and his co-conspirators shortly after the murder told the Weekly she thinks Kirk acted on his own and describes the killing as "a monumental hate crime." The witness, wife of the getaway-car driver, feels the case has been solved.
But King County Sheriff's Department Sgt. John Urquhart says the cold-case investigation continues, and hopes recent publicity will provide new leads. "This homicide happened at a very turbulent time in the United States," he says. "It's a part of Seattle history and it needs to be solved and it needs to be talked about."