Family of Emmett Till Seeks Prosecution For 1955 Abduction And Lynching

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Emmett Till’s family is continuing to seek justice for his 1955 lynching — now, they’re looking to hold the woman who set off the Black Chicago teen’s murder accountable. 

According to NBC News, activists and relatives want Mississippi authorities to prosecute Carolyn Bryant Donham for Till's kidnapping 67 years ago. Donham was named in a warrant for Till’s abduction but was never arrested or brought to trial because police didn’t want to “bother” her.

Although Till’s family would prefer a murder prosecution, the kidnapping warrant Donham is named on could still exist and be used to indict her in court. However, 67 years later, they face obstacles to finding the original warrant that could be in boxes of old court records, and many witnesses have died since Till's lynching. 

Jaribu Hill, Till’s family attorney, said in a statement, “Because warrants do not expire, we want to see that warrant served on her [Donham].”

In 1955, then-21-year-old Donham accused the Till of grabbing her at a Mississippi store. Till’s relative witnessed their interaction and said the 14-year-old only whistled at her.

Two days later, Donham’s husband Roy Bryant and half-brother J.W. Milam showed up at Till’s great uncle’s house loaded with firearms and abducted the teen. Till’s body was soon after found mangled in a river.

The two men set off by Donham were acquitted of murder and never indicted on kidnapping charges. Donham, now in her 80s, is the only one still living who was directly involved in Till’s murder.

According to NBC News, Till’s relatives believe Donham's arrest for Till's abduction and killing is long past due.

Deborah Watts, who runs the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation, said in a statement, “Mississippi is not the Mississippi of 1955, but it seems to still carry some of that era of protecting the white woman.”

Watts and other relatives of Till's met with District Attorney Dewayne Richardson, the lead prosecutor in Leflore County, Mississippi, but left disappointed, NBC News reports.

“There doesn’t seem to be the determination or courage to do what needs to be done,” Watts said.

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