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Offbeat Government reopens probe of Emmett Till slaying

14:15  12 july  2018
14:15  12 july  2018 Source:   msn.com

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(Associated Press). The federal government has reopened its investigation into the slaying of Emmett Till , the black teenager whose brutal 1955 killing in Mississippi shocked the world.

Emmett Louis Till (July 25, 1941 – August 28, 1955) was a 14-year-old African-American who was lynched in Mississippi in 1955, after a white woman said she was offended by him in her family's

FILE - This undated photo shows Emmett Louis Till, a 14-year-old black Chicago boy, who was kidnapped, tortured and murdered in 1955 after he allegedly whistled at a white woman in Mississippi. The federal government has reopened its investigation into the slaying of Till, the black teenager whose brutal killing in Mississippi helped inspire the civil rights movement more than 60 years ago. (AP Photo, File) © The Associated Press FILE - This undated photo shows Emmett Louis Till, a 14-year-old black Chicago boy, who was kidnapped, tortured and murdered in 1955 after he allegedly whistled at a white woman in Mississippi. The federal government has reopened its investigation into the slaying of Till, the black teenager whose brutal killing in Mississippi helped inspire the civil rights movement more than 60 years ago. (AP Photo, File)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The federal government has reopened its investigation into the slaying of Emmett Till, the black teenager whose brutal killing in Mississippi shocked the world and helped inspire the civil rights movement more than 60 years ago.

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The Department of Justice is considering reopening the investigation into the infamous murder of Emmett Till — an African-American teen whose brutal killing charted the course of the civil rights movement — after meeting with the boy’s family.

Pictures of the slaying shocked the world. Two white men charged with murder — Roy Bryant and his half brother, J.W. Milam — were acquitted by an all-white jury. The Death of Emmett Till . Words and Music by Bob Dylan 1963, 1968 Warner Bros.

The Justice Department told Congress in a report in March it is reinvestigating Till's slaying in Money, Mississippi, in 1955 after receiving "new information." The case was closed in 2007 with authorities saying the suspects were dead; a state grand jury didn't file any new charges.

Deborah Watts, a cousin of Till, said she was unaware the case had been reopened until contacted by The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The federal report, sent annually to lawmakers under a law that bears Till's name, does not indicate what the new information might be.

But it was issued in late March following the publication last year of "The Blood of Emmett Till," a book that says a key figure in the case acknowledged lying about events preceding the slaying of the 14-year-old youth from Chicago.

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Emmett Till 's slaying should be re-investigated now that a key witness is quoted as saying she lied about what the black teen said and did before he was lynched, his relatives say. “If there is any chance to reopen the case, I hope they will take this opportunity to do it now.”

"Although too late to save Emmett , the slaying helped galvanize opposition to brutality of segregation and Jim Crow. Till relatives, members of Congress, the N.A.A.C.P. and civil rights leaders pressed the federal government to reopen and investigate the Till case as it had several other civil rights-era

The book, by Timothy B. Tyson, quotes a white woman, Carolyn Donham, as acknowledging during a 2008 interview that she wasn't truthful when she testified that Till grabbed her, whistled and made sexual advances at a store in 1955.

Two white men -- Donham's then-husband Roy Bryant and his half-brother J.W. Milam -- were charged with murder but acquitted in the slaying of Till, who had been staying with relatives in northern Mississippi at the time. The men later confessed to the crime in a magazine interview, but weren't retried. Both are now dead.

Donham, who turns 84 this month, lives in Raleigh, North Carolina. A man who came to the door at her residence declined to comment about the FBI reopening the investigation.

"We don't want to talk to you," the man said before going back inside.

Paula Johnson, co-director of an academic group that reviews unsolved civil rights slayings, said she can't think of anything other than Tyson's book that could have prompted the Justice Department to reopen the Till investigation.

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Two of Emmett Till 's cousins, Wheeler Parker and Deborah Watts, said a renewed probe of Carolyn Donham's role could settle lingering questions. — The horrific 1955 Mississippi slaying of Emmett Till “If there is any chance to reopen the case, I hope they will take this opportunity to do it now.”

Niggers ain't gonna vote where I live. If they did, they'd control the government . They ain't gonna go to. Till Probe , Democrat-Herald (Albany, N.Y.), May 12, 2004, available at. meaning and merits of reopening the Emmett Till case now, nearly fifty years later. 76. Id.; see also Ralph Hutto, Slain Boy's Uncle Identifies Bryant, Milam on Stand

"We're happy to have that be the case so that ultimately or finally someone can be held responsible for his murder," said Johnson, who leads the Cold Case Justice Initiative at Syracuse University.

The Justice Department declined to comment on the status of the probe.

Watts, Till's cousin and co-founder of the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation, said it's "wonderful" that the killing is getting another look, but didn't want to discuss details.

"None of us wants to do anything that jeopardizes any investigation or impedes, but we are also very interested in justice being done," she said.

Abducted from the home where he was staying, Till was beaten and shot, and his mutilated body was found weighted down with a cotton gin fan in the Tallahatchie River. Images of his mutilated body in the casket gave witness to the depth of racial hatred in the Deep South and helped build momentum for subsequent civil rights campaigns.

Relatives of Till pushed Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reopen the case last year following publication of the book.

Donham, then known as Carolyn Bryant and 21 years old at the time, testified in 1955 as a prospective defense witness in the trial of Bryant and Milam. With jurors out of the courtroom, she said a "n****r man" she didn't know took her by the arm.

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Two cousins of Emmett Till -- Wheeler Parker and Deborah Watts -- say authorities should reopen the investigation. The horrific 1955 Mississippi slaying of Emmett Till , which helped trigger the modern civil rights movement, should be re-investigated now that a key witness is quoted as saying she lied

The killers' admission, published only five months after the slaying , was generally consistent with the 12. See id.; see also Shelia Hardwell Byrd, Documentary Starting Point for Latest Till Probe 24. Emmett Till : Blacks React to Reopening of Tragic Case, supra note 21, at 8 (quoting U.S endorsement of government actors such as elected officials, sheriffs, prosecutors, and judges.56.

"Just what did he say when he grabbed your hand?" defense attorney Sidney Carlton asked, according to a trial transcript released by the FBI a decade ago.

"He said, 'How about a date, baby?'" she testified. Bryant said she pulled away, and moments later the young man "caught me at the cash register," grasping her around the waist with both hands and pulling her toward him.

"He said, 'What's the matter baby, can't you take it?'" she testified. Bryant also said he told her "you don't need to be afraid of me," claiming that he used an obscenity and mentioned something he had done "with white women before."

A judge ruled the testimony inadmissible. An all-white jury freed her husband and the other man even without it. Testimony indicated a woman might have been in a car with Bryant and Milam when they abducted Till, but no one else was ever charged.

In the book, author Tyson wrote that Donham told him her testimony about Till accosting her wasn't true.

"Nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him," the book quotes her as saying.

Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, introduced legislation this week that would make the government release information about unsolved civil rights killings. In an interview, Jones said the Till killing or any other case likely wouldn't be covered by this legislation if authorities were actively investigating.

"You'd have to leave it to the judgment of some of law enforcement agencies that are involved or the commission that would be created" to consider materials for release, Jones said.

___

Associated Press writer Allen G. Breed in Raleigh, North Carolina, contributed to this report.

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