The U.S. Department of Justice takes another look at the Emmett Till case, in which a fourteen-year old African American boy was brutally murdered by two white men in Mississippi.
Emmett Till Case Re-Opened
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor:
There is news tonight about a notorious murder that helped launch the U.S. Civil Rights Movement in fact. A Mississippi State grand jury decided not to bring criminal charges in the 1955 murder of a young Black man, Emmett Till, which means that his murder will soon be considered a closed case. The story tonight from NBC’s Pete Williams.
PETE WILLIAMS, reporting:
A few days after a 14-year-old named Emmett Till whistled at a white woman in this store in the Mississippi Delta, his brutally beaten body was found in the Tallahatchie River, tied to a 75-pound weight. The men suspected of killing him including these two who bragged about it, have since died, one was married to the woman who said she was whistled at, Carolyn Bryan, she still lives age 73. But now after an intensive investigation a county grand jury in Mississippi has declined to prosecute her for manslaughter, apparently from a lack of evidence.
Because federal authorities have no jurisdiction the state grand jury’s action all but rules out any possible new charges in Emmett Till’s murder. But today the Justice Department says that it is not turning its back on Civil Rights-era killings.
The FBI says it is taking a new look at more than one hundred cases, such as the 1946 lynching of four sharecroppers on this bridge, an hour east of Atlanta.
RICHARD COHEN, Southern Poverty Law Center: I think it would be wrong to give families false hope, but I think it would be right to say to them that people still care.
WILLIAMS: FBI agents say that now a dozen of the cases are now under active investigation. They are hoping for a different result than in the case of Emmett Till, a murder that galvanized the Civil Rights Movement. Pete Williams, NBC Washington.
MONEY, Miss. — Two vans, escorted by local sheriff's deputies, traveled deep into the Mississippi Delta. Through endless stretches of corn and cotton. It was early afternoon when they arrived at the dilapidated grocery store.
"Is this it?" one of the travelers asked.
The building was barely standing, covered in thick weeds and ivy. Bryant's Grocery and Meat Market, once the centerpiece of Money, a bustling town of 400. In 1955, it was the site of 14-year-old Emmett Till's fatal crime — whistling at a white woman.