Justice Dept reopens investigation into Emmett Till’s lynching murder

Angelo Anderson
July 13, 2018

The murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till, barbarous even in an era in which blacks in the South were subjected to untold viciousness, has been reopened, according to a US Justice Department report to Congress.

Till's story is a stain on American history.

Till, a 14-year-old from Chicago, was visiting relatives in rural MS when he was accused of whistling and making sexual advances at a white woman, Carolyn Bryant. Though white men J.W. Milam and Roy Bryant were ultimately acquitted by an all-white jury, they later confessed to brutally murdering Till in a Look magazine interview. Abducted from the home where he was staying, Till was beaten and shot, and his body was found weighted down with a cotton gin fan in the Tallahatchie River.

Till's mother, Mamie Till Mobley, insisted that her son's disfigured body be displayed in an open-casket funeral.

Despite the pleas of his MS family, Roy Bryant and Milam reportedly forced Emmett into their waiting vehicle and drove him down to the Tallahatchie River, where they reportedly forced the teen to carry a 75-pound cotton gin fan.


Thursday, the Associated Press announced that, back in March of this current year, the Justice Department uncovered the reviving to Congress in a report and referred to "new information". It didn't elaborate on the nature of the information, but the Washington Post reports that the key detail was contained in historian Timothy Tyson's 2017 book, The Blood of Emmett Till.

"Nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him", she reportedly said during a 2008 interview. Outside of the presence of a jury, she testified that Till had grabbed her around the waist and said, "How about a date, baby?"

In closing arguments, the defense team appealed to jurors' heritage, saying their ancestors would turn in their graves if they didn't free these fine, white men. Bryant also said he told her "you don't need to be afraid of me", claiming that he used an obscenity and mentioned something he had done "with white women before". Deborah Watts, a cousin of Till, said she was unaware the case had been reopened until contacted Wednesday by The Associated Press.

It's unclear what new charges could result from a renewed investigation, said Tucker Carrington, a professor at the University of MS law school.

In this September 23, 1955, file photo, J.W. Milam, left, his wife, second left, Roy Bryant, far right, and his wife, Carolyn Bryant, sit together in a courtroom in Sumner, Miss. The Justice Department declined to comment on the status of the investigation.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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