Emmett Till’s cousin speaks on cemetery scandal

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In suburban Chicago a scandal at an historic black cemetery got worse a day after four cemetery workers were charged with digging up bodies to re-sell gravesites.

Hundreds came to the Burr Oak Cemetery trying to locate family members they thought had been laid to rest.

Four cemetery employees are now accused of running a scheme that saw caskets removed and discarded so the burial plots could be resold.

It is here that Emmett Till, an icon of the Civil Rights movement is also buried. Till was just 14 in 1955 when he was brutally murdered in Money, Mississippi. His mother, so angered by the mutilated state of her son’s body, insisted on an open casket so the world could see.

This week, in the back of a run down cemetery garage, authorities discovered his original glass covered casket, rotted and ruined. His body, buried elsewhere in the cemetery, was undisturbed.

The Reverend Jesse Jackson, who says the Till murder changed his life, looked on in horror.

“Boundless greed and disregard for all that matters,” he said. “The result is what we see here today.”

Emmett Till’s body was exhumed during a 2005 re-examination into his death. He was reburied in another coffin. To find the original in such a state compounds his family’s anguish.

“This is another atrocity in his life,” said Till’s cousin Ollie Gordon.

For many, this derelict coffin should be a museum piece, as a symbol of the Civil Rights movement.

The investigation continues into how many hundreds of families here have suffered similar outrage.

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