By Steve Neavling
The Justice Department has reopened the 1955 murder case of Emmett Till, a black 14-year-old who was brutally beaten, shot and left for dead in a river in Mississippi for allegedly whistling at a white woman.
Not long after the all-white jury acquitted two white men of Till’s murder, they confessed they were guilty, protected against double jeopardy. They are now dead.
But a central witness in the case, Carolyn Bryant Donham, changed her account of what happened.
The Justice Department declined to comment on the case, and it’s unclear what federal authorities plan to do. Cold cases from the Civil Rights Era rarely lead to convictions.
The Washington Post reports:
Federal prosecutors previously concluded that the statute of limitations for federal charges had run out, and a Mississippi grand jury in 2007 refused to bring charges, including a manslaughter charge that local authorities had sought against Ms. Donham.
Relatives of Emmett welcomed the new probe. But some — including the author of the book that triggered the new inquiry — have questioned what the government is up to. A “completely hypocritical political show” to distract from the ongoing controversies of the Trump administration, said Mr. Tyson. Such skepticism is understandable given the clear disdain Mr. Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have shown for issues of civil rights and equal justice. Sad that they never seem to see the need to address the inequalities that exist today in the justice system and that victimize black people.
But Emmett’s mother, who died in 2003 without ever getting justice for her son, was right to insist that we not look away from what was done in the name of white supremacy. Let’s hope this new look at the case brings some measure of justice for a crime that must never be forgotten.