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Bulletproof Emmett Till marker dedicated Saturday replaces vandalized sign

Gun-toting students pose at Emmett Till sign

A new bulletproof memorial to Emmett Till was dedicated Saturday in Mississippi after previous historical markers were repeatedly vandalized. The brutal slaying of the 14-year-old black teenager helped spur the civil rights movement more than 60 years ago.

Patrick Weems, executive director of the Emmett Till Memorial Commission, said the new marker was dedicated Saturday.

Members of Till's family, including a cousin who was there the night Till was kidnapped, attended the ceremony at the site where the teen's body was pulled from the Tallahatchie River.

This is the fourth historical marker at the site. Previous ones became a target for vandals.

The first historical marker was placed in 2008. Someone tossed it in the river. The second and third signs were shot at and left riddled with bullet holes.

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This image from the Emmett Till Interpretive Center shows the vandalized historical marker in Tallahatchie County, Mississippi. Emmett Till Interpretive Center

The new 500-pound steel sign has a glass bulletproof front, Weems said.

Weems said the markers were placed as an attempt to acknowledge the truth of what happened there and hopefully spark "new conversations."

"For 50 years nobody talked about Emmett Till," Weems said.

"I think we just have to be resilient and know there are folks out there that don't want to know this history or who want to erase the history. We are just going to be resilient in continuing to put them back up and be truthful in making make sure that Emmett didn't die in vain."

The federal government is still investigating Till's brutal slaying. 

The inquiry was reopened two years after a book indicated a key witness had lied. "The Blood of Emmett Till," by Timothy B. Tyson, quotes a white woman, Carolyn Donham, as acknowledging during a 2008 interview that she wasn't truthful when she testified that Till grabbed her, whistled and made sexual advances at a store in 1955.

Two white men — Donham's then-husband Roy Bryant and his half-brother J.W. Milam — were charged with murder but acquitted in the slaying of Till, who had been staying with relatives in northern Mississippi at the time. The men later confessed to the crime in a magazine interview, but weren't retried. Both are now dead.  

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