the investigation reopened 63 years later


US justice decided last week to reopen the investigation into the death of Emmett Till, the young African American killed and tortured at 14 in 1955 by a group of white men.

It is with discretion that the federal government has reopened a 63-year-old survey. An investigation that, if the truth is finally restored, could change everything. In 1955, 14-year-old Emmett Till was savagely killed in the state of Mississippi. This young African-American had allegedly disrespected a white woman, provoking the anger of the inhabitants, including several men, also white, who had decided to take revenge. The US Justice Department said it chose to relaunch the investigation after a new report sent to Congress last March, "based on new information."

The New York Times, however, says it will be difficult for the authorities to prosecute anyone in this case. The two men who confessed to the murder are dead today. Prescription of the facts could also put a brake on a future trial. If the justice has not given more details on these famous "new information", the decision to reopen the file could follow a book written by the historian Timothy B. Tyson in which Carolyn Bryant Donham – the woman who had accused Emmett Till at the time – confessed to having lied.

Back to the facts

According to her story at the time, while he was in a Mississippi grocery store, where segregation and racism prevailed at the time, Emmett Till would have caught the young white woman by the waist throwing him, "You must not be afraid of me baby, I have already done things with white women in the past." According to him, when he left the store, he had said goodbye by whistling her. Four days later, on August 28, the teenager was kidnapped at his uncle's house by Roy Bryant – the accuser's husband – and J.W. Milam, two white men. For hours, the kidnappers tortured him. He was beaten, strangled with barbed wire, and shot in the head. The body of the victim was thrown into the Tallatchie River. He was finally found three days later. Disfigured, he was identified only thanks to a ring on his finger and bearing the initials of his father.

The teenager's body was repatriated to Chicago, where he was from. Immediately, Emmett's family called for justice. But she never came. The trial of Bryant and Milam was only a formality. The only white jury in just an hour and a half decided to acquit the two men. In exchange for $ 4,000, Bryant and Milam, who were not risking anything at all, finally agreed a few weeks later to tell "Look" magazine how they killed Emmett.

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