A trio of white students from the University of Mississippi has been suspended by their fraternity after a photo of them standing in front of an Emmett Till sign struck by bullets armed with guns. The Kappa Alpha fraternity caught wind of the MAGA photo op and the students could face possible civil rights violation charges to boot.
One of the students posted a photo to his private Instagram account in March showing the trio in front of a roadside plaque commemorating the site where Till’s body was recovered from the Tallahatchie River. The 14-year-old black youth was tortured and murdered in August 1955. An all-white, all-male jury acquitted two white men accused of the slaying.
The photo, which was obtained by the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting and ProPublica, shows an Ole Miss student named Ben LeClere holding a shotgun while standing in front of the bullet-pocked sign. His Kappa Alpha fraternity brother, John Lowe, squats below the sign. A third fraternity member stands on the other side with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. The photo appears to have been taken at night, the scene illuminated by lights from a vehicle.
LeClere posted the picture on Lowe’s birthday on March 1 with the message “one of Memphis’s finest and the worst influence I’ve ever met.”
Neither LeClere nor Lowe responded to repeated attempts to contact them.
The outlet adds that it wasn’t known if the students shot the sign, which has been vandalized several times in the past despite the best efforts of the Emmett Till Memorial Commission to protect the historical marker. The Justice Department is now investigating the matter in order to determine whether or not to charge the men, including a fourth unnamed person who snapped the photo.
Emmett Till would have been 78 on July 25.