Mississippi rednecks and racists listen up: your attempts to shoot up a memorial for slain civil rights icon Emmett Till will soon get a bullet-proof solution.
The purple history marker placed near the location where Till’s 14-year-old body was discovered in 1955 has been removed due to vandalism and will be replaced by a new, fool-proof one. This is after a disturbing new photograph recently surfaced of three white University of Mississippi students posing with guns in front of the bullet hole-riddled memorial, according to NBC News.
The picture was discovered after one of the three men posted the photo to his Instagram page in March, according to an article authored by the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting and ProPublica. All three of the students are now suspended from their fraternity.
The Emmett Till Memorial Commission, which maintains the marker, made the decision to replace the 50-pound sign for a 500-pound reinforced steel memorial, reported NBC News.
Patrick Weems, executive director of the commission, said the memorial has been destroyed several times in the past, and knows vandals will attempt to destroy the new one.
“We’re under no naiveté that this is going to end,” Weems told NBC News. “The manufacturers said that this is a bulletproof sign. We’ll test that theory.”
“This is an ongoing saga,” Weems added.
This is really about denial about the evils of racism and history, according to Susan Glisson, co-founder and partner in Sustainable Equity, the organization that consults with the commission on the best ways to memorialize Till, who would have turned 78 this past Thursday.
“It’s easier to cancel out that story for some people than it is to engage with the truth,” Glisson told NBC News.
Although this latest incident occurred off of the campus for Ole Miss, the racist and troublesome history of the university is well-documented.
On Friday, Larry Sparks, interim chancellor of Ole Miss, took to Twitter to slam the picture as “offensive and hurtful,” but said the school was limited in what it could do because the incident occurred off campus and was “not part of any university-affiliated event.”
In 1962, federal forces were called to enforce the court-ordered enrollment of James Meredith, who was the university’s first Black student. Today, students and staff need to stand united against acts like these, Sparks said.
“In light of our history, our University of Mississippi community of more than 25,000 people needs to come together to make it clear that these students and their actions do not represent the values of our institution,” Sparks said on Twitter. “They do not speak for our institution, and they do not define us.”
Till, who was from Chicago, was in Mississippi visiting family during the summer of 1955 when a gang of white supremacists – who were never held responsible in a court of law – kidnapped, tortured and killed him. Till’s brave mom ordered his casket remain open so the entire world could see what those animals did to her baby.