Emmett Till Memorial Will Now Be Bulletproof After White College Students Posed In Front Of It With Guns
The new reinforced steel sign will hopefully deter future vandalism.
July 27, 2019 at 5:26 pm
Update (July 27, 2019): A custom design studio is replacing the commemorative sign honoring Emmett Till in Mississippi and making it bulletproof for the first time.
The new sign was created by LiteBriteNeon, a Brooklyn-based company. Weighing nearly 500 pounds and made with reinforced steel, the new memorial piece will ideally prevent any future vandalism acts, according to CNN.
The new Emmett Till Sign, made by @LiteBriteNeon. It’s the 4th memorial sign marking where his body was recovered. For the first time, it is bullet proof. The last 3 were stolen or shot up. This replaces the sign where three Ole Miss students posed brandishing guns. pic.twitter.com/nKokFjoR9L— Audra Burch (@abscribe) July 26, 2019
Earlier this week, an Instagram photo of three University of Mississippi students holding guns in front of the bullet-ridden sign went viral, drawing fierce criticism about the disgrace to Till’s legacy.
NBC News reports an installation ceremony for the new sign memorializing Till will be held on October 19.
Original: Three University of Mississippi students were suspended from their fraternity after a photo of them posing in front of an Emmett Till memorial with guns was posted online.
In the photo posted in March, three young white men are seen smiling and holding guns next to a plaque commemorating Till’s death. The sign is riddled with bullet holes, but it is unclear if the trio is responsible for the vandalism, according to a report by the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting and ProPublica. The memorial has been defaced three times since it was originally erected in 2008. Till was 14 years old when he was lynched by a mob of white men in 1955 after a white woman accused him of whistling at her.
Emmett Till would be exactly 78-years-old today. Yet more than 60 years after he was so brutally murdered on August 28, 1955, people in Mississippi are still shooting his memorial signs and markers to this day.— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) July 25, 2019
The hatred against him still lives on strong. pic.twitter.com/vPLl3HxYCc
The Instagram account belongs to Ben LeClere, who is standing on the left side of the photo holding a shotgun. The man squatting in the center was identified as John Lowe. The identity of the third man has not been determined. The picture was posted on March 1, Lowe’s birthday.
“One of Memphis’s finest and the worst influence I’ve ever met,” read the caption.
Ole Miss students. One named Ben LeClere‘s, another named John Lowe.— Stess The Emcee (@StessTheEmcee) July 25, 2019
This picture is in front of a sign meant to honor Emmett Till.
The story came out today.
Today is Emmet Till's birthday.https://t.co/PmKtjG4Wrh pic.twitter.com/pQVf5pvEMj
An unknown source reported the photo to Ole Miss’ Office of Student Conduct.
“The photo is on Instagram with hundreds of ‘likes,’ and no one said a thing,” the person wrote. “I cannot tell Ole Miss what to do, I just thought it should be brought to your attention.”
The photo received 274 likes before it was removed after the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting and ProPublica began contacting people for interviews.
Kappa Alpha fraternity, who identifies Confederate leader Robert E. Lee as a “spiritual founder,” suspended the men on Wednesday.
“The photo is inappropriate, insensitive and unacceptable. It does not represent our chapter,” said Ole Miss chapter president Taylor Anderson. “We have and will continue to be in communication with our national organization and the University.”
The photo was reported to police who turned it over to the FBI. The bureau declined to investigate because there was no “specific threat.”
Ole Miss spokesman Rod Guajardo confirmed the university received a report, but the students will not be punished because they did not violate the school’s code of conduct and the photo was not taken on campus.
"We stand ready to assist the fraternity with educational opportunities for those members and the chapter," Guajardo said in a statement to The Hill. "The University of Mississippi will continue to build programs that engage our students in deliberate, honest and candid conversations while making clear that we unequivocally reject attitudes that do not respect the dignity of each individual in our community."
Thursday would have marked Till’s 78th birthday.