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'Offensive' Photo Taken at Emmett Till Site Surfaces

3 Ole Miss students held guns in front of bullet-riddled sign honoring slain civil-rights icon
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 26, 2019 9:19 AM CDT
An undated portrait shows Emmett Till, a black 14-year-old Chicago boy, who was brutally murdered in Mississippi in August 1955.   (AP Photo/File)

(Newser) – Three University of Mississippi students have been suspended from their frat over a photo that shows them posing, two with guns, in front of a civil rights landmark honoring slain black teen Emmett Till. ProPublica and the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting report the suspension of Ben LeClere, John Lowe, and a third un-IDed student from the Kappa Alpha fraternity occurred Wednesday after the news outlets made the frat aware of the image. LeClere—seen in the pic shown here holding a shotgun in front of the bullet-riddled sign near Glendora, Miss.—posted the photo to his private Instagram account in March. The outlets don't specify how they obtained the photo. In it, Lowe is seen crouching between LeClere and the third student, who's holding an AR-15 rifle.

It's not known whether the students actually fired at the sign, which marks where Till was pulled from the Tallahatchie River in 1955. It's the third to be erected at the site due to vandalism incidents. A complaint regarding the photo was actually made to the university’s Office of Student Conduct in early March, but Ole Miss says it's unable to take action. "While the image is offensive, it did not present a violation of university code of conduct," a college spokesman says, per NBC News. "It occurred off campus and was not part of a university-affiliated event." That doesn't mean the students' troubles are over: US Attorney Chad Lamar of the Northern District of Mississippi tells ProPublica the case has been referred to the DOJ's Civil Rights Division to be investigated. "We will be working with them closely," Lamar notes. A fourth sign is set to soon be installed. (Read more University of Mississippi stories.)

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