The DOJ Reopening Emmett Till Case Now Sends A Hypocritical Message

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While the justice department’s decision to reopen the case is noble to some extent, it sends a very conflicting message to the African-American community.

Exterior view of the U.S. Department of Justice building

Reports surfaced that the United States Justice Department plans to reopen the case of the murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till back in 1955.

In a report to Congress, the brutal slaying was listed as one of the “activities” that the department was looking into under the 2007 unsolved civil rights crime act, which is also named after Till, according to CNN.

The legislation calls upon the department to "expeditiously investigate" civil rights murders before 1980 that are considered unsolved.

"The Till case has been re-opened by DOJ based upon the discovery of new information," the department said in March, however, they did not elaborate on the latest findings.

For those who may not know, Till was murdered after being falsely accused of making flirtatious advances at a white woman, Carolyn Bryant, who was 21 years old at the time and married. Her husband and his brother carried out the killing.

Both of Till’s killers are now deceased, so anything to come from reopening the case would be more symbolic than anything else and could potentially result in some closure for his living relatives.

While the justice department’s decision is noble to some extent, it sends a very conflicting message to the African-American community.

Twitter user Chuck Modi suggested that reopening the 63-year-old case is “symbolic performance.” Modi cited the more recent police shootings of Tamir Rice and Alton Sterling, among others, to back his claim.

His post was retweeted by social justice advocate and former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. 

Modi is not wrong. While belated justice for Till would be a great victory, reopening his case does not address the modern day lynchings our society is witnessing on a regular basis.

The continued fatal shootings of unarmed black men, women, and children at the hands of members of law enforcement are current matters that are receiving absolutely no attention from the federal government. Yet a high-profile case from six decades ago is now supposed to be viewed as a nod to the government’s commitment to pursuing racial justice.

Meanwhile, the officers who have the blood of Rice, Sterling, Philando Castile, Freddie Gray, and countless others on their hands are walking freely. Better yet, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin’s killer George Zimmerman, who even auctioned off the gun he killed the teen with, is going about his daily life, suffering no consequence.

These current issues need to be addressed, and the system that allows these injustices to occur needs to be changed. The very same dehumanizing mindset about African-Americans that resulted in Till’s death and the biased criminal justice system that acquitted his killers are still perpetuated today.

What is the Justice Department going to do about today's wrongs? Perhaps we will find out in another 63 years.

Banner/Thumbnail Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons, 14EmmettTillBefore

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