There’s a chance that Emmett Till might finally get justice. After his cousin, Deborah Watts, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions held a meeting earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Justice will contemplate re-opening the 1955 murder case, Okayplayer reports.
Watts is the co-founder of the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation, and mentioned that Sessions is interested in re-examining cases that have yet to be solved or treated unjustifiably. “He’s definitely open to looking at cases that should be reviewed, and cases where there are no answers for loved ones who have experienced the murder of their loved ones,” Watts told the Chicago Tribune.
During their meeting, activist Alvin Sikes, a member of the Emmett Till Justice Campaign, was also in attendance. The initiative to reopen the case partly stems from Carolyn Bryant Dunham’s confession about giving a false testimony in 1955 about Till’s untruthful involvement. Reportedly, Dunham stated that the 14-year-old threatened and grabbed her. “He said [he had] done something with white women before. I was just scared to death,” she initially said.
A jury didn’t hear Dunham’s testimony once the trial commenced, but the court attendees put her name on the record—which led to the jury’s acquittal of Till’s murderers. Amid the false testimony and unfair ruling, Dunham recently admitted to author Timothy Tyson—who penned the book “The Blood of Emmett Till”—that she lied in her testimony.
“That part’s not true,” Dunham reportedly said to Tyson 10 years ago. “Nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him.”
While the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes Reauthorization Act grants prosecutors the right to investigate cases before 1980, acting Assistant Attorney General T.E. Wheeler II warns this latest detail might not suffice to re-open the case or solve the instance.
“The Department is currently assessing whether the newly revealed statement could warrant additional investigation,” Wheeler reportedly wrote in a letter to Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.). “We caution, however, that even with our best efforts, investigations into historic cases are exceptionally difficult, and there may be insurmountable legal and evidentiary barriers to bringing federal charges against any remaining living persons.”
Yet, Sykes says they want to continue to increase efforts to pursue more civil rights investigations and for the justice department to enlist a Till Act advisory committee to pick cases that should be re-examined, according to The Tribune.