Emmett Till was 14-years-old in the summer of 1955 and visiting relatives in Mississippi when two white men who thought he had flirted with a white store clerk, beat him, shot him and threw him in the Tallahatchie River. His murder would eventually become one of the most infamous and seminal moments in the history of the Civil Rights Movement.
A commemorative sign marks the spot in the river where Till’s body was found. But someone keeps shooting this sign. A lot.
The most recent defacement of the sign was reported by Kevin Wilson, a NYU graduate student making a short film about Till’s death. He posted a picture of the sign as he found it on Facebook.
This is far from the first time this has happened. There’s photographic evidence of the sign being defaced going back several years on social media. It has been replaced repeatedly.
The Clarion Ledger found even more times the sign has been vandalized, including a 2006 incident where someone painted the letters “KKK” on it. Dave Tell, an associate professor at the University of Kansas who is part of the Emmett Till Memory Project, told the Clarion-Ledger that the signs were “easy targets” for racists looking to lash out.
The Emmett Till Interpretative Center, a museum in Sumner, MS, that keeps track of the legacy of Till’s death, launched a fundraiser to raise money to replace the sign, raising almost $20,000 in just two days. Hopefully, this will be the last time anyone has to do this.