After the vandalization of an Emmett Till memorial sign in Mississippi, officials decided to replace the tribute with a bulletproof casing. According to CNN, the decision was made after three white students at University of Mississippi posed in front of the sign with semi-automatic guns.
The sign stands along the Tallahatchie River where Till’s body was discovered. It was first installed in 2007. Since then, the sign has been riddled with bullets, stolen, or littered with bullets again, recently being in 2018. The students in the most current story surrounding Till’s memorial have been suspended by their fraternity.
Patrick Weems, who serves as the Emmett Till Memorial Commission’s executive director, said he hopes this new memorial will find its way into the minds of people “who care about this story.” Weems continued, “That Emmett Till did not die in vain. His mother didn’t allow him to die in vain and we have a sacred oath to make sure that these sites go back up.” In 1955, at the age of 14, Till was brutally murdered by two white men after he was accused of making verbal advances toward a white woman. The woman in question, Carolyn Bryant, confessed in 2008 that she fabricated the entire encounter.
On the subject of the three students’ pictured in front of the sign, Till’s cousin and co-founder of the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation, Deborah Watts, said their actions aren’t alarming. “The unfortunate thing is that is not surprising because of just where we are in our country today,” Watts said. “We are experiencing, I think, an uptick in terms of hatred, violence and people feeling emboldened to take that kind of action.”
The sign will return to its location in October.