(Newser) – The scene of an infamous criminal act has once again been vandalized. The New York Times charts the recent history of the sign that has marked the spot where Emmett Till’s body was in 1955 pulled from the Tallahatchie River; the 14-year-old had been lynched after a white woman said he whistled at her. In 2007, a sign was erected at that spot and seven other places significant to his murder. But that riverside sign’s history has been a fraught one: It was stolen and never recovered, reports CNN, and the replacement has been on the receiving end of more than 100 bullets over the years. A fresh sign went up in June and sat there, unscarred, for 35 days. On July 26, four bullet holes blighted the sign once more.
One bullet pierced the word “mother,” in a sentence referencing Mamie Till Mobley’s desire “not to bury her son” but return him to his hometown Chicago. Patrick Weems, co-founder of the Emmett Till Interpretive Center, says the very nature of the sign’s location suggests the shooting was intentional: One has to travel about two miles down a dirt road to get to it. In the wake of the incident, Weems says he’s accepted an offer to have a fourth sign made, for free and out of steel, which is superior to the metal that’s previously been used. Till’s case was closed in 2007, but the Justice Department reopened the case earlier this year after receiving “new information.” The DOJ didn’t elaborate, but the development followed the 2017 publication of a book that quotes Till’s accuser, Carolyn Bryant Donham, as admitting she made up the worst parts of her story. More of her comments here.
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