A sign memorializing a young African-American boy whose brutal murder helped spark the civil rights movement has been repeatedly vandalized in Glendora, Mississippi. CNN reported Monday that the memorial sign for Emmett Till was found riddled with bullet holes just over a month after it had been put in place. The group that placed the sign remembering the young teenager, who was murdered 63 years ago, told CNN that it plans to leave the memorial up.
Patrick Weems, who co-founded the Emmett Till Interpretive Center, told CNN: "For 50 years, our community lived in silence, and there's those who want to erase history. We've been through that."
There's a historical significance to where Till's memorial sign is placed. It's close to the Tallahatchie River, where Till's body was found in 1955. CNN reported that local authorities hadn't yet determined a motive for the vandalism; the Tallahatchie County Sheriff's office did not immediately respond to Bustle's request for comment.
Weems speculated that the shooting wasn't spontaneous or without cause. He noted that the memorial sign is two miles away from town down a gravel road. "It's a stark reminder that racism still exists," he told CNN.
This wasn't the first time that Till's memorial sign was vandalized, either. The sign first went up in 2007 and was stolen just a year later. That original memorial sign was never found after that, Weems told CNN. Then, in 2016, a replacement memorial sign was shot at and left riddled with dozens of bullet holes. Weems told CNN that the damaged sign was taken to the Emmett Till Interpretive Center and kept there ever since.
A third memorial sign was put up in July. Just 35 days later, a Delta State University professor informed the center that he'd found the new memorial sign had bullet holes in it, too.
"This is the site where Till's body was removed from the river," the memorial sign reads. "It was then taken to Greenwood, Mississippi. Then the body was sent back to Money, Mississippi, for burial. Via a phone call from Till's mother, 'not to bury her son,' the body was then taken back to Greenwood. The body was then sent to Tutwiler, Mississippi, for final preparation to be sent to Chicago, Illinois."
The gruesome death of Till, who was falsely accused of flirting with a white woman in 1955, continues to haunt the United States. In 2017, the woman who accused Till told a Duke University historian that her claim had been false. Earlier this year, the U.S. Justice Department under Attorney General Jeff Sessions reopened the case a decade after it'd been declared closed.
Weems told CNN that the vandalism of Till's memorial sign shows just how alive and well racism is in America. While he noted that he didn't know the reason why someone would shoot at the historical marker, he added that "whether it was racially motivated or just pure ignorance, it's still unacceptable."