The once-closed lynching case of 14-year old African-American Emmett Till has been reopened. After receiving a report in late March from the U.S. Justice Department with “new information,” Congress has decided to further investigate the circumstances around his killing.
During the summer of 1955 Emmett Till was visiting his family in Mississippi when the Chicago teen encountered a white woman at a store who claimed he whistled at her and touched her inappropriately. Days later he was kidnapped, brutally beaten shot, then thrown into the Tallahatchie River.
An all-white jury later acquitted Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam, the two men responsible for his murder. Years later, the men admitted to the killing, but due to double jeopardy laws, were protected from being tried again.
The recent information brought forth in the Justice Department report has not been elaborated upon, however, there’s speculation that the intel comes from a book titled, The Blood of Emmett Till which was released around the same time that the report was filed. In the book, Carolyn Bryant Donham, the white woman who initially accused Till of sexual harassment, admits to lying in her testimony and goes on record saying, “Nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him.”
Despite her admittance of fault, many, including Selma director Ava DuVernay find her compliance with the heinous crime too egregious to forgive.
Relatives of Till who have tried to get the case reopened since the release of the book, are grateful for the newfound efforts. In an interview with NBC, Deborah Watts, a cousin of Till and the co-founder of the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation, said “None of us wants to do anything that jeopardizes any investigation or impedes, but we are also very interested in justice being done.”
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