Emmett Till’s civil rights marker vandalized

Emmett Till’s civil rights marker vandalized
Allan Hammons via CNN

A civil rights marker about Emmett Till on the Mississippi Freedom Trail has been vandalized twice in the past two months, according to the firm that manages the trail.

The historical marker outside the grocery store where 14-year-old Till was accused of whistling at a white woman while visiting his family has to be refurbished due to the damage by vandals, said Allan Hammons, whose company manages the Mississippi Freedom Trail.

He said that in May someone scratched the marker, and over the weekend, it was noticed that someone had peeled off the back of the marker, where it contained photos and writings about Till.

“This site is a significant moment in the civil rights movement,” Hammons said. “People were outraged and shocked at this incredible criminal act. What Mississippi chose to do by creating the freedom trail was committing themselves to telling the unvarnished truth.”

Till was kidnapped and lynched in Money, Mississippi, in 1955 after the incident at the Bryant Grocery store. Two white men were arrested in the case, but were acquitted by an all-white jury in Mississippi that same year.

Till’s death, and the decision of his mother, Mamie Till Mobley, to show her son’s beaten body in an open casket, was a pivotal moment in the civil rights movement. His mother allowed newspapers to print photos of Till’s disfigured face in his casket, which fired up the civil rights movement.

The marker outside the former Bryant Grocery store was erected in 2011. Hammons said it will be removed this week and taken to his office for the necessary repairs, which will cost about $500.

Last year, the sign marking the site of the teen’s death was found riddled with bullet holes.

Hammons said it is unknown if the vandalism was racially motivated or just a random crime. Till’s marker is the only marker on the freedom trail that has been vandalized, he said.