Staff writer for the Atlantic, Jemele Hill, shared a thread cerated by journalist Ashton Pittman, who has been documenting the ongoing desecrations of memorials created for Emmett Till in Tallahatchie County, Mississippi.
Till was lynched in 1955 at the age of 14, because a white woman named Carolyn Bryant lied and said he’d been flirting with her, specifically that he’d grabbed her by the waist. What actually happened between Bryant and Till is confused by Bryant’s false testimony. Several days after the interaction, he was abducted by Bryant’s husband, Roy Bryant, and his half-brother, J.W. Milam. He was tortured, shot in the head, and his body was sunk in the river.
Till’s story was well-publicized at the time, largely because his mother insisted on an open-casket funeral and photos of Till’s mutilated body were published in the papers. Thousands of people visited his body in Chicago and the images sparked a discussion about civil rights in Mississippi. Roy Bryant and Milam were found not guilty by an all-white jury, but a year later they admitted to killing Till publicly, protected against double jeopardy. Till’s story has become a symbol of the civil rights movement and the violence of white supremacy, especially in the south.
And now white supremacist groups are filming propaganda videos next to his memorial:
It’s disgusting that this is the 4th memorial that had to be built for Emmett Till because the previous ones were being shot at repeatedly. That these clowns continue to disrespect his legacy is heartbreaking. Great info in this thread about how people can help. https://t.co/LrbkTibP1a— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) November 3, 2019
In the video caught by surveillance footage, the group waves a Mississippi flag and a League of the South flag, according to the Jackson Free Press. Several men speak as they are filmed by two white women.
“We are here at the Emmett Till monument that represents the Civil Rights movement for blacks. What we want to know is, where are all of the white—,” a man begins, before being cut off in the video. Other footage shows the group scattering like roaches when the alarms at the memorial go off.
Shortly after, members of the white supremacist org disperse & scurry to their cars after apparently setting off a security alarm at the newly-replaced Emmett Till memorial, now bulletproof, after being shot up repeatedly. (Warning: loud video). Story + more footage coming. 2/ pic.twitter.com/LxjGPjhkM8— Ashton Pittman (@ashtonpittman) November 3, 2019
There are alarms at the memorial because it has been shot up multiple times, according to Patrick Weems, the executive director of the Emmett Till Interpretive Center. The Center has received a number of donations since the video was released:
I'd also just like to put a fine point on the fact that the League of the South is a neo-Confederate group that seeks to "finish" the work of Southern secession, but chooses to use what is a predominantly white flag as its symbol. Oddly appropriate. #TheseColorsRun pic.twitter.com/QYbZN1bf37— Ashton Pittman (@ashtonpittman) November 3, 2019
Pittman identifies the movie-makers as the League of the South, a group that wants to “finish” the Southern succession, so they’re deluded on a number of fronts.
Though the donations are welcome, Weems believe that vandalism and other acts of aggression around the memorial should be recognized as a hate crime.
“The [U.S.] Department of Justice didn’t flag it as a hate crime, and the University of Mississippi has yet to flag it as an issue, and I think it’s an open call for white supremacist groups that if there is no repercussion, they’re going to continue to come out and do these sorts of acts at the sign,” Weems told the Jackson Free Press. “I think there’s an obvious irony that the hate flag they used was the Mississippi flag. And I would hope that our politicians and political leaders would recognize how hateful that flag is to many people in the State of Mississippi.”