Sign marking site of civil rights icon Emmett Till's death shot 40 times

A sign marking the spot in Tallahatchie County, Mississippi, where 14-year-old black teenager Emmett Till's body was pulled from the river following his 1955 murder has been desecrated.

CNN affiliate WJTV reports an unknown person placed at least 40 shots through the sign recently, resulting in significant damage.

Kevin Wilson Jr., who is working on a film about Till, posted a photo of the sign to Facebook, writing "I'm at the exact site where Emmett Till's body was found floating in the Tallahatchie River 61 years ago. The site marker is filled with bullet holes. Clear evidence that we've still got a long way to go."

Till, who was from Chicago, Illinois, was briefly visiting Money, Mississippi, in 1955 when he crossed white shopkeeper Rob Bryant by allegedly flirting with his wife. Bryant and another man, J. W. Milam, were never convicted for Till's torture and murder, but they later confessed to the crime in a Look magazine interview.

Racism "is alive in Mississippi always was and always will be," one commenter wrote below. "They are still punishing Emmett Till all these [years] later."

"This isn't the first time it has been vandalized," wrote another. "It has been vandalized continuously and only people this obsessed with racial hatred will continuously try to destroy a memorial in turn not only killing the child but also trying to kill his memory."

According to WJTV, though the sign has been vandalized before, "no one has ever been arrested for vandalizing the sign."

CNN reported the Emmett Till Interpretive Center is raising money to replace the sign.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit which tracks hate groups across the U.S., reported a rise in extremist groups and attacks in 2015, with "armed violence ... accompanied by rabid and often racist denunciations of Muslims, LGBT activists and others — incendiary rhetoric led by a number of mainstream political figures and amplified by a lowing herd of their enablers in the right-wing media."

Weeks ago, a historic black schoolhouse undergoing renovations in Ashburn, Virginia, was vandalized with graffiti including swastikas and "white power" slogans.

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Tom McKay

Tom is a staff writer at Mic, covering national politics, media, policing and the war on drugs. He is based in New York and can be reached at tmckay@mic.com.

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