Maryland launches Emmett Till Alert to inform Black leaders of racist, hate-driven incidents

The Emmett Till Alert, modeled after the Amber Alert, will notify state officials, clergy and leaders of credible hate crimes and racist acts.

A new alert system named after a civil rights icon will alert Maryland leaders to hate crimes and racist incidents. 

The Emmitt Till Alert, modeled after the Amber Alert, will notify nearly 170 state officials, clergy and community leaders when any credible acts of racism or hate occur in Maryland, it was announced Monday. 

The Emmett Till Alert, a new alert system named after Till (above), who was slain in 1955, will inform Maryland’s Black leaders of hate crimes or racist incidents. (Photo: Associated Press)

“Not all hate crimes are investigated. Not all hate crimes are reported, for a variety of reasons,” said Carl Snowden of the Caucus of African American Leaders at Monday’s news conference, reported by NPR. “What we are going to do is make sure every hate crime that we’re made aware of goes out on this alert system.”

Snowden’s announcement of the privately funded effort comes following several troubling incidents in Maryland this year. 

Three HBCUs in Maryland received bomb threats. WBAL-TV also reported that in July, police arrested a Dundalk man they say admitted to writing a racist graffiti threat aimed at Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott on an MTA bus. 

Also last month, federal officials announced they would investigate the Maryland State Police’s employment practices to determine where they’re discriminatory. Then earlier this month, residents said they found “white power” slogans on stickers in the Columbia area, an action condemned by the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Racist graffiti has also been found on the church doors at Kingdom Celebration Center in Anne Arundel County, where the Caucus of African American Leaders is based.

Apostle Antonio Palmer, quoted by CBS News, said, “The Emmett Till Alert system is a step in the right direction for our community to govern itself and to heal itself.”

The new system will have three alert levels — low, medium and high — and the company AlertMedia will determine whether to send notifications via text message or email, NPR reported. Snowden told WJZ-TV that a “high” alert means the greatest likelihood of violence or death.

“The idea here is to have an alert system that allows the entire community to know what is happening,” Snowden said. “If they get an Emmett Till Alert, it’s very serious, and they should take the necessary steps to protect themselves and their family.”

Till was just 14 years old when he was kidnapped, tortured and killed in Mississippi in 1955 for supposedly offending a white woman by whistling at her. That woman, Carolyn Bryant Donham, now 88, allegedly claimed years after the murder that she tried to help Till.

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