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FBI to Exhume Emmett Till

By Andrew Peerless in News on May 4, 2005 2:22PM

The story of Emmett Till is a well-documented, well-worn and thoroughly disgusting affair: the 14-year-old Chicago native came to be known as the "sacrificial lamb" of the Civil Rights Movement after traveling to violently-segregated Mississippi to stay with relatives during the summer of 1955.

image courtesy of crimelibrary.comWhile there, he made the deadly mistake of cat-calling a white woman working at a local general store, and three days later, was kidnapped, beaten beyond all recognition, and was eventually found dead - shot in the head and tied with barbed wire to a cotton gin fan at the bottom of a nearby river. In a textbook example of "justice" in the racist South of the era, an all white jury acquitted the white perpetrators - who eventually proved their mettle as repulsive human beings by bragging about their deeds in an interview with Look magazine.

Now, fifty years after his death and the murderers' acquittal, the FBI has announced plans to exhume Till's body from an Alsip cemetery in an effort to gain hard evidence. Last year, the case of Till's murder was officially reopened by the U.S. Department of Justice, spurred to action when a documentary by filmmaker Keith Beauchamp unearthed new evidence in the case.

Beauchamp believes that, while just two men were tried in the initial investigation, as many as ten may have been involved with Till's murder - some of whom may be alive today (though the initial two suspects are both now deceased). In any case, Chicagoist hopes with all its might that, if some of Till's murderers are still alive, the FBI and DOJ are able to bring them to justice in a timely manner... after all, it's never too late (see Byron de la Beckwith).

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