A group carrying a white nationalist flag tried to film a video in front of the recently installed memorial for Emmett Till over the weekend, according to security footage captured at the site.
Patrick Weems, the executive director of the Emmett Till Memorial Commission, told NBC News that the group appeared to be making some sort of propaganda video at the memorial in Mississippi for the Black teenager who was murdered in 1955. Some were holding up a flag affiliated with the League of the South, which is classified as a neo-Confederate hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The people were scared off by a spate of new security measures meant to keep the often-vandalized memorial safe, including an alarm and security cameras. In a video uploaded on Facebook, members of the group can be heard saying the monument had been erected to commemorate the “civil rights movement for Blacks.”
“What we want to know is, where are all of the white people?” the person continued.
Members of Till’s family unveiled a new, bulletproof memorial for him last month.
The memorial, which sits on the shore of the Tallahatchie River in Mississippi, near the place where Till’s body was discovered, has been subject to vandalism for years and replaced many times. Former versions were peppered with bullet holes, but the new sign weighs 500 pounds and is covered with a bulletproof front.
“We understand that racial reconciliation begins by telling the truth. Our historical markers allow a first step towards that truth-telling process,” Weems said in a press release announcing the new memorial. “Sadly, there are still those who want to deny the events of 1955. We cannot change our past but we have a responsibility to tell our stories together so we can move forward together with a shared future.”
Till was kidnapped and killed in 1955 after a white woman accused him of catcalling and grabbing her. The two white men accused of killing him were acquitted of murder by an all-white jury after an hour of deliberation.
The woman who first accused Till, Carolyn Bryant, admitted decades later that her initial claims were lies. The 14-year-old has since become a civil rights martyr.
Weems told NBC he hoped the new memorial would stand strong in the face of hate, noting that the commission is trying to raise money for a permanent site to honor Till.
“We want to respond to this hate speech by continuing to do this work,” he told the outlet.