Civil Rights Marker for Emmett Till Vandalized Months After His Memorial Sign Was Riddled With Bullets

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A plaque marks the gravesite of Emmett Till at Burr Oak Cemetery May 4, 2005 in Aslip, Illinois. Getty Images

An historical civil rights marker in Mississippi has been vandalized less than six months after a neighboring sign was riddled with bullet holes.

The vandalism of the sign obscures details about black teenager Emmett Till, who was kidnapped and lynched in 1955 when he was just 14 years old. The sign makes up part of the Mississippi Freedom Trail, which displays markers at civil rights sites in the state, Reuters reported.

Visitors to the site, in Money, Mississippi, found vinyl panels providing information about Till, who was kidnapped after white shopkeeper Carolyn Bryant accused him of whistling at her, had been peeled off the sign.

The shopkeeper’s husband Roy Bryant and his half-brother J.W. Milam were acquitted of the murder by a jury entirely composed of white people, but later confessed to the crime.

The vandalized marker, which stands outside the now-closed Bryant's Grocery & Meat Market where Bryant accused Till of whistling at her, had been previously defaced in May, when it was found scratched by a blunt tool, according to Allan Hammons, whose public relations firm made the marker.

Hammons told Reuters: “Who knows what motivates people to do this?"

He explained traffic signs in the area are common targets for vandals and shooters. "Vandals have been around since the beginning of time,” he added.

The second piece of vandalism on the Till memorial sign outside the closed grocery comes less than a year after another memorial to Till—marking the place his body was pulled from the Tallahatchie River—was found to be riddled with bullet holes.

Back in October, filmmaker Kevin Wilson Jr. shared a picture of the sign that had repeatedly been shot at, comparing it with a sign commemorating the historical home of one of Till’s murderer’s, which was untouched and well-kept.

“Juxtaposed with my previous post about Emmett Till's Site Marker being shot-up with bullet holes... Here is a site marker for the home of J.W. Milam, Emmett Till's murderer. It is preserved and adorned with flowers. Again. We have a long way to go,” Wilson Jr. wrote on Facebook.

The site marker close to the river has reportedly been shot at for years, with one Twitter post dating back to 2013 showing some bullet holes.

The Emmett Till Interpretive Center has raised $27,000 to repair the sign, which was privately erected, but the marker on the Freedom Trail in Money cost more than $8,000, and repairs are expected to cost upwards of $500.