By: Zeba BlayVoices Culture Writer, The Huffington Post
Emmett Till sign with bullet holes
A memorial sign dedicated to commemorating the murder of Emmett Till has been vandalized in Money, Mississippi. The sign, marking the spot where Till’s body was discovered in August 1955, had been riddled with at least 50 bullet holes.
At only 14, Till fell victim to racist violence when he was kidnapped, tortured and killed by an angry white mob for apparently whistling at a white woman. The disfigured body of the Chicago-born teen was found three days later floating in the Tallahatchie River.
J.W. Milam and Roy Bryant, the two white men charged with killing Till in 1955, were acquitted of the crime, though they later bragged about kidnapping and murdering the teen. Till’s death and the lack of justice against his murderers became a catalyst for the civil rights movement throughout the United States in the ‘50s and ‘60s.
In 2007, eight signs marking key locations in the last days of Till’s life were erected by the Emmett Till Memorial Commission. By 2013, as revealed in a 2013 tweet by writer Christopher Hooks, the sign marking the location Till’s body was found had been shot at dozens of times. More recently, on Oct. 15, a North Carolina man named Kevin Wilson Jr. posted an updated photo of the memorial sign, now riddled with at least 50 bullet holes, on Facebook.
There doesn’t seem to be any leads on the identities of the vandals, though efforts are already being made to fix the sign. According to the New York Daily News, the Emmett Till Interpretive Center is attempting to raise $15,000 to replace the damaged sign. Until then, it stands as a reminder that the racism that killed Till still lives on today.
It was not the first time that this particular sign has been vandalized since it was erected in 2007. The Emmett Till Memorial Commission put up eight site markers at important locations, including near the Mississippi river where Emmett’s body was found after he was kidnapped, tortured and killed for allegedly whistling at a white woman while visiting relatives down South.
As the Daily News notes, officials have said that replacing and restoring the sign every time someone damages it or steals it goes beyond their financial capabilities. However, after news spread across social media, donations came pouring in, raising the amount to go toward replacing the sign to a whopping $19,200 as of 3 p.m. EDT on Monday. More than 400 people have contributed to the effort so far. In Greene County, Alabama, signs naming Highway 14 as “Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Drive have attracted similar bullet hole attacks by vandals.