White Nationalists Caught Shooting Propaganda Video at Emmett Till Memorial, Then Scatter When Alarm Sounds

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A memorial honoring Emmett Till was dishonored over the weekend by a group of white nationalists attempting to shoot a propaganda video at the historic site in Mississippi.

The video, released by Sumner Courthouse and the Emmett Till Interpretive Center on Saturday, shows the men filming a video in front of the memorial, which has been a repeated target for racist vandalism in recent years.

Emmett Till
Members of an alleged neo-Confederate group were caught trying to make a propaganda video at the memorial site honoring slain Black teen Emmett Till. (Photo: The Sumner Courthouse and Emmett Till Interpretive Center / Facebook video screenshot)

The group was caught red-handed, thanks to a newly installed surveillance system that was updated when crews erected a bulletproof memorial at the site late last month, Patrick Weems, executive directed for the Emmett Till Memorial Commission, told NBC News. 

In the clip, a group of five white men can be seen gathered near the sign in Sumner, Mississippi with the state flag, as well as another flag depicting the St. Andrews cross. Two other people are standing off to the side, appearing to record with their cellphones. 

A man in the video describes the memorial as a “monument that represents the civil rights movement for blacks.”

He then asks: “What we want to know is, where are all of the white people?”

Moments later, the group is sent scattering as security alarms for the memorial begin to sound.

Weems said the sirens, a new security feature, are a part of the updated surveillance system that was installed after a previous marker honoring Till, 14, was riddled with bullet holes on several occasions. He added that Saturday’s incident was the first of what looked “to be white nationalists making a propaganda video.”

Weems also told NBC News that the flag bearing the St. Andrews cross has been linked to an Alabama-based neo-Confederate group called the League of the South.

Till, a Black teen visiting from Chicago, was kidnapped and lynched by two white men in 1955 after he supposedly had whistled at a white woman. His body was recovered days later in the Tallahatchie River.

It would be several decades before Carolyn Bryant Donham, the woman who claimed Till made advances toward her, confessed to lying about the events that led to the teen’s brutal murder.

The Department of Justice re-launched the investigation into Till’s lynching last year and it remains among the active cases under review by the agency. However, the teen’s relatives have grown weary waiting for justice.

“We want them to go ahead and do something,” the Rev. Wheeler Parker, 80, who was with Till the night he was abducted, told the Associated Press earlier this year. “What’s the holdup?”

Till’s newest memorial was dedicated Oct. 19 and is currently being monitored by local authorities after Saturday’s incident.