Emmett Till relatives gather at boy’s grave 60 years later

29 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

60 Years After Emmett Till’s Murder, Black Lives Still Matter.

The legacy of the lynching of thousands of black people in America was recalled when the death 60 years ago in Mississippi of just one — Emmett Till — was commemorated Friday at his gravesite in a suburban Chicago cemetery. CHICAGO (CBS) — A wreath of white flowers marked the grave of a Chicago teenager, whose brutal killing 60 years today in the Deep South helped launch the civil rights movement. “The casket was right there,” Parker recalled on Friday, the 60th anniversary of Till’s horrific murder. “The church was packed.ALSIP, Ill. – Relatives and civil rights activists gathered at the gravesite of Emmett Till to remember the black Chicago teenager 60 years after he was killed for whistling at a white woman in Mississippi. – The State of Mississippi failed today in its effort to punish two white men for the brutal “wolf whistle” murder of a 14-year-old [African American] boy.

On Friday, family members gathered at Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ, where Till’s funeral was held, to travel to Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip, where he was buried. While the parallels between Till’s murder on August 28, 1955, and the shooting death of Michael Brown on August 9, 2014, are not direct, the similarities are nonetheless undeniable. Another cousin, Wheeler Parker, was with Till when white men broke into the home where Till was staying with his family, and took him away in the middle of the night to lynch him. Both events galvanized a black community that had been unheard and spawned movements around what many saw as particularly egregious racial incidents. “It’s not exactly like Jim Crow, but when you have confessed murderers go free, a sham of a legal process and people not being held accountable … When we reflect back, we’re seeing things that are very similar,” said Deborah Watts, a cousin of Till’s and co-founder of the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation. “Black lives do matter.

Today was her first time inside. “My mother was a desegregation activist,” Gersh said. “So when Emmett Till was killed in Mississippi, she thought it was important to participate in events in Chicago.” Milam, 36, a contract cotton picker, and his half brother, Roy Bryant, 24, a grocer, not guilty of the murder of Emmett Louis Till, of Chicago, after deliberating an hour and three minutes at the conclusion of a five-day trial. Milam – were acquitted by an all-white jury, but later – under protection from double jeopardy – bragged to Look magazine that they had indeed killed Till. “Hopefully, this will stir someone to find the ability to do something about the community, and about things in America that need to be changed,” he said. The defendants, seated next to the railing in the well of the court, promptly grasped their attractive dark-haired wives and put on a public petting party by way of celebration.

Participants in the weekend commemoration of Till’s death will include the family of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager shot and killed by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, in Sanford, Florida, in 2012; and Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen killed by white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, last year. Barbed wire was wrapped around his neck and he was weighted down with a cotton gin fan. “I thought we would all die,” he said. “I’ve never been that afraid before in my life. So you relive that, and wonder what could you have done?” Till’s mother insisted on an open-casket funeral in Chicago, and Jet magazine published photos of his corpse.

Everybody’s got an Emmett Till story.” Similarly, African-Americans grew enraged as the image of 18-year-old Brown’s body lay on the concrete — in plain view of the residents of a surrounding apartment complex for more than four hours — spread across social media. The verdict did not mean immediate freedom for either defendant because Judge Swango, dismissing a kidnaping indictment pending against them here in Tallahatchie County, ordered them taken to Leflore County, adjoining on the south, for prosecution of the kidnap charge. Louis who has been an active protester in Ferguson for the past year, said that while she learned about Till’s story as a child, she didn’t connect it to the larger picture of black liberation until it was in her front yard. “I didn’t contextualize it to Ferguson,” said Reed, 25. “I’m sure there was someone my age who was radicalized through that moment, when they saw his body in that open casket. But Milam and Bryant could easily be out of jail tomorrow, because in this state bond may be granted in kidnaping cases upon submission of an affidavit to a justice of the peace. It was being able to understand how these moments exist, where it takes a tragedy to light a fire under a community.” Indeed Till was on the minds of many last August: in the days after Brown’s death and his Aug. 25 funeral, some of Till’s relatives attended the services in solidarity.

Jury Foreman Shaw said the big factor in the acquittal was that the state failed to prove identification of young Till’s body beyond a reasonable doubt. In the Till murder, it was the Black Press that relentlessly covered the murder and trial in an attempt to fully expose the horrors of the segregated South.

Whitten Jr., one of the five defense lawyers, urged the jurors to consider a theory that “outside agitators” had spirited away the Till boy and planted another body in the river in hopes of stirring up a celebrated “race relations” trial in Mississippi. Whitten did not charge that such a plot actually existed, but said that it could be considered a probability in the light of an incident 35 years ago when three embalmed [African American] bodies were thrown into the Mississippi near Greenville at a time when the reborn Ku Klux Klan was being fought in the South. “Agitator” who could try such a tactic 35 years ago could be reasonably thought to be attempting the same thing in the present racial tension, Whitten said. The speech obviously had its appeal here, for tension has been marked throughout the five days of the trial, with outsiders getting cold stares as they filed in and out of the courtroom. Despite the intense media coverage and overwhelming calls for Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson to be prosecuted, a grand jury in November declined to find him criminally responsible for killing Brown. Also all but ignored in the deliberations, Shaw said, was the testimony of Willie Reed, 18-year-old [African American] ninth-grader, who swore he saw Till in a car driven by white men at a farm owned by Milam’s brother, Leslie, outside Drew, in nearby Sunflower County, several hours after J.

The verdict of acquittal had been generally expected here, although the prosecution proved unexpectedly vigorous when the state turned up two surprise witnesses to link Milam with young Till on the morning of the kidnaping. Smith 3d, went all out to get a guilty verdict although they did not specifically ask for death in the gas chamber, which the murder statute provides. In the courtroom there seemed to be fewer [African Americans] and most of the [African American] photographers who had been making pictures side by side with white photographers, were conspicuously missing.

Their exodus was obviously welcomed by the local whites, some of whom had shown signs during the week of resenting having cameras pointed in their direction by [African Americans]. But Sheriff Smith of LeFlore and his deputy, John Edd Cothran, both testified at the murder trial that Bryant and Milam had made statements orally admitting their individual responsibility for kidnaping the boy. Prosecutors say Sharpe, 24, was intoxicated and driving at speeds over 100 mph on July 12 before his vehicle slammed into the rear of a car carrying a family of four. Sharpe and several friends ignored the pleas for help from the lone survivor, Lucnie Bouaz-Ostane, as her husband, Ancio Ostane, and their children, 8-year-old Andy and 4-year-old Sephora, were consumed by flames, the prosecutor said. “At the time when dying people needed help the most, the defendants, some of them, literally stood by watching the Ostane family — children and dad — perish,” Spota said.

Sharpe’s attorney, Jonathan Manley, disputed allegations that his client refused to help the family, and also denied the prosecutor’s claims that his client was intoxicated. Spota said Sharpe had a blood-alcohol reading of 0.06 percent, which is below the legal definition of 0.08 percent required for a driving-while-intoxicated charge.

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