New Emmett Till memorial to be bulletproof after vandalism, frat student photo

Days after a photograph of three University of Mississippi students posing with guns beside the often-vandalized memorial for lynching victim Emmett Till made the rounds online, a commission has proposed the 50-pound purple marker should be replaced yet again — but this time with a bulletproof sign.

» Aug. 28, 1955: The day Emmett Till launched a movement

The marker along Mississippi's Tallahatchie River, where Till's 14-year-old body was found mutilated in 1955, was first put up in 2007, then stolen the following year. Its replacement was vandalized with bullet holes. A third was installed in 2018 only to be riddled with bullets 35 days later. Fearing more attention and vandalism, the Emmett Till Memorial Commission called for the most recent memorial to be removed following the Mississippi fraternity photo scandal.

A new 600-pound, steel bulletproof sign will be installed in October. The commission is also negotiating a lease for 2 acres at the river's edge for a fuller memorial site.

» Justice Department reopens Emmett Till murder case 63 years after gruesome murder

Till was visiting relatives in the Mississippi Delta in 1955, when he was kidnapped from a relative's home after an encounter with a white woman at a country store. He was tortured and later shot, with his body found weighted down by a cotton gin fan in the Tallahatchie River. His mother insisted on an open-casket funeral in Chicago, letting people see her son's corpse and electrifying public opinion.

An all-white jury in Mississippi acquitted two white men in the crime.

» Justice Department reopens Emmett Till murder case 63 years after gruesome murder

"This particular area will go forward in the long run," commission treasurer Rev. Willie Williams told CNN. "Because this legacy and this story, it's much bigger than any of us."

The three Kappa Alpha Order boys from the photo have since been suspended from their fraternity, a group that has long been associated with Old South and Confederate imagery and still claims Confederate Robert E. Lee as its spiritual founder.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.