Filmmaker poring over county books for documentary

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 9, 2009

NATCHEZ — With not much more than a video camera and stacks of old legal documents, David Paperny is trying to unearth the dark side of the Civil Rights era.

Paperny, owner of Paperny Films, is also the executive producer of a new documentary aimed at bringing justice to victims of Civil Rights era crimes of the 1960s.

And that quest recently brought Paperny’s film crew to Natchez.

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While Paperny’s not naming names, he said there are “several people” in Natchez that are either victims or the perpetrators of violence or murders during the 1960s.

The bulk of film’s subjects are either black victims or members of the Ku Klux Klan, he said.

“There are hundred’s of unsolved cases like this in the South,” he said. “These are really heinous crimes against obviously innocent people.”

While in Natchez, Paperny’s crew was filming documents at the Adams County Courthouse.

Circuit Clerk Eddie Walker said the crew had been filming general docket books.

While Walker was not sure what specific books had been filmed, some of the books do coincide with the Civil Rights era timeframe and contain information on individuals charged with Civil Rights violations.

The information contained within the books is public record and contains information specific to crimes and sentencing.

And Papery isn’t alone in his quest for justice.

Reporters from the Concordia Sentinel, Clarion Ledger and other newspapers are also gathering information for the documentary.

Stanley Nelson, editor of the Concordia Sentinel, has been enlisted to work on the project.

Nelson regularly writes about local Civil Rights era murders involving the KKK.

“There’s a genuine effort to solve these cases,” Nelson said. “You can’t let these murders go unsolved.”

Paperny’s counting on the hard work of the reporters and his crew to possibly solve some of the hundreds of cases he has information on.

And his relying on some heavy consciences to help.

“They want to talk before their time is up,” he said of those providing information on some of his cases. “They want to be able to settle the score, they want to clear their conscience.”

Paperny’s documentary has no release date yet.