Bulletproof Emmett Till Memorial Erected After Previous Signs Were Repeatedly Vandalized
The new memorial sign is 500 pounds and made of bulletproof steel.
October 22, 2019 at 2:52 pm
A memorial dedicated to Emmett Till is being replaced for the fourth time after previous signs were repeatedly destroyed.
The New York Times shared harrowing photos of the last sign, located on the shore of the Tallahatchie River just outside of Glendora, Mississippi, which had been repeatedly hit with gunfire over the years.
“OK, you want to shoot it down? We’re going to put it right back up,” Till’s cousin Airickca Gordon-Taylor told The New York Times.
“You’re never going to forget about Emmett Till and that he was here. Our family has never received judicial justice from the state of Mississippi for Emmett’s murder, so, in some form, this is us saying, ‘Until you do right by us, basically, you’re never going to forget,’” she added.
According to The Emmett Till Memorial Commission, the plaque was made by Brooklyn sign manufacturer Lite Brite Neon for free. The sign was “built out of half-inch AR500 steel and covered with a three-fourth inch acrylic panel.” Lite Brite Neon said the sign was designed to withstand a rifle round without damage.
A new, bulletproof memorial for Emmett Till was erected on the shore of the Tallahatchie River today, after vandals’ repeated attempts to erase his memory here. pic.twitter.com/25hTobCfWl— Ja'han Jones (@_Jahan) October 19, 2019
The Emmett Till Memorial Commission originally built the sign in 2008 to commemorate the place where Till was found dead. Within just six months, someone removed the sign and threw it into the river. Another one was quickly put up but was almost immediately damaged by bullets.
The sign gained national prominence when an NYU student posted a photo of it in 2016, sparking months of widespread outrage.
Before Lite Brite Neon could put up a new sign, The Emmett Till Memorial Commission posted a third sign, which was riddled with bullets after just 35 days. In 2018, the memorial went viral again when three white students from Ole Miss University took a picture with their guns raised.
The Ole Miss students have since been suspended and face possible federal investigation by the Department of Justice.
The 14-year-old Black teenager became a tragic symbol for the Civil Rights Movement more than 60 years ago, when he was kidnapped, brutally beaten and killed by two white men and left for dead in the Tallahatchie River.
Till’s family members, including a cousin who was there the night Till was taken, attended the dedication ceremony. About 100 people were present for the event, USA Today reported.
“For 50 years nobody talked about Emmett Till,” Patrick Weems, executive director of the Emmett Till Memorial Commission said. “I think we just have to be resilient and know there are folks out there that don’t want to know this history or who want to erase the history. We are just going to be resilient in continuing to put them back up and be truthful in making make sure that Emmett didn’t die in vain.”