A photograph of three University of Mississippi students with guns posing in front of the bullet-ridden memorial for slain civil rights icon Emmett Till was released, causing controversy.
What We Know:
- The memorial was there to honor 14-year-old Emmett Till, who was tortured and murdered in August 1955 for “flirting” with a white woman. He was beaten and left so disfigured that he was hardly recognizazble. The all-white, all-male jury in Mississippi acquitted his murderers, two white men, accused of the slaying. His murder showcases the true brutality of the “Jim Crow” era.
The new, 500-pound reinforced steel memorial is expected to be installed in a ceremony on Oct. 19, NBC News reported. The sign will be bulletproof as a result of this terrible crime. It will be placed at the spot where Till’s body was pulled from the Tallahatchie River and will be open to the public — but protected by a gate and security cameras, according to the Emmett Till Memorial Commission.
- “Unlike the first three signs, this sign calls attention to the vandalism itself,” the commission said in a news release. “We believe it is important to keep a sign at this historic site, but we don’t want to hide the legacy of racism by constantly replacing broken signs.”
- The students have since been suspended from their fraternity house and face possible investigation by the U.S. Justice Department.
- This is not the first time that the sign has been damaged. “Our signs and ones like them have been stolen, thrown in the river, replaced, shot, replaced again, shot again, defaced with acid and have had KKK spray-painted on them,” the commission said. “The vandalism has been targeted, and it has been persistent.”
- Vandals first threw the sign in the river. The second sign was blasted with 317 bullets or shotgun pellets before removed by commission officials. The third sign, featured in the Instagram photo, was damaged by 10 bullet holes before officials took it down last week. The comission is planning on having the site designated as a national park (vandalism at national parks is prohibited by federal law).
Emmett Till deserves to forever be respected.