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An unserved warrant from 1955 was found in a Mississippi courthouse basement in the case of the lynching of Emmett Till.
A warrant for the arrest of Carolyn Bryant Donham was discovered last week by a team searching a Mississippi courthouse basement for evidence about Till’s lynching. The warrant was dated August 29, 1955, the day after Till was lynched.
Leflore County Clerk, Elmus Stockstill, certified the warrant as being genuine saying “[the team] narrowed it down between the ‘50s and ‘60s and got lucky.”
Till’s family wants the warrant to be served to have Donham arrested and charged for her role in Till’s death.
“Serve it and charge her,” Teri Watts, a relative of Till, told the Associated Press.
Emmett Till Antilynching Act
In March, Congress passed the Emmett Till Antilynching Act officially making lynching a federal hate crime after more than a century of failed proposals.
Bobby Rush, the Illinois Democrat who introduced the measure in the House, stated: “Despite more than 200 attempts to outlaw this heinous form of racial terror at the federal level, it has never before been done. Today, we corrected that historic injustice.”
According to the Equal Justice Initiative, over 4,400 African Americans were lynched in the US between the end of Reconstruction, in the 1870s, and the years of the Second World War. Some lynchings and public executions were watched by barbaric White crowds at picnics, and postcards and souvenirs were even sold.
Back in March, relatives of Till held a press conference calling on the Justice Department to take action, including Joshua Harris-Till, a Black Democrat running for Congress in Oklahoma.
Today I shared words during the #JusticeForEmmettTill press conference. We delivered over 400,000 signatures to the attorney generals office thanks to the collective efforts of @MoveOn and @dailykos under the direction of the @EmmettTill foundation pic.twitter.com/c6e27yAgxc
— Joshua Harris-Till (@JHarrisTill) March 12, 2022
101-Year-Old Nazi Sentenced for Holocaust
Some have been outspoken, and assuredly many more unspoken, who think that Donham should not be held responsible for her role in the lynching of Till because too much time has passed.
On Tuesday, a German court sentenced a 101-year-old former Nazi concentration camp guard to five years in prison for aiding and abetting the murder of 3,518 people during the Holocaust.
Court spokeswoman Iris Le Claire said “it was extraordinarily difficult to find an appropriate punishment because the acts took place a very long time ago, and the perpetrator is already very old. All of this had a mitigating effect on the sentence.”
Donham is currently in her 80s and has never recanted her statement that Till whistled at her, which led to him being abducted, tortured, and killed by a white mob at the age of 14.
Federal officials reopened the investigation into the lynching after the release of a 2017 book quoted Donham as saying she lied back in 1955 when she claimed Till accosted her. Till’s relatives denied that Donham ever recanted her allegations, and according to the Justice Department, Donham told the FBI that she had never changed her story.
Arrest warrants involving a long passage of time typically would not hold any weight, but since there has been new evidence uncovered a half century later there is a possibility that this newly found warrant could aid in the family’s quest for justice.