‘Unfortunately, being stupid and racist is not a crime’: Politicians, family react to white supremacists at Emmett Till memorial

Published: Nov. 4, 2019 at 9:12 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - State leaders, civil rights groups and the family of Emmett Till have expressed outraged after a white supremacists group was caught on camera shooting a protest video in front of a memorial for slain civil rights icon Emmett Till over the weekend.

The sign sits near the river where his body was pulled from after he was beaten and killed back in 1955. The 14-year-old was accused of whistling at a white woman.

“This was merely about hate,” said Till’s Cousin, Pricilla Sterling.

“It is quite shameful and quite sad,” echoed Executive Director of the Mississippi NAACP Corey Wiggins.

In the video you also see some members of the group holding up neo-Confederate flags.

One of the flags appeared to be linked to a group called “League of the South," a hate group according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

We reached out to a local attorney to find out if the group broke any laws on the video.

“From what I saw the group was exercising their First Amendment right. Absolutely, in that case, I don’t agree with it, but there is a right to protest or assemble without government interference,” said Attorney Francis Springer.

At one point in the video, the group quickly runs to their cars when an alarm sounds.

“It’s interesting that you are so bold and so brave. That alarm was set off and you all run like roaches,” noted Sterling.

She says the sign has been the target of vandalism multiple times.

In fact, less than a month ago, Sterling says her family was at the dedication of a new bullet proof sign to replace the one that was vandalized.

“It’s 64 years later. You have these racists that continue to get away with vandalizing anything of [Emmett’s] in the state. It is time for our politicians to fix the racial injustice here in Mississippi,” said Sterling.

The Executive Director of the Mississippi’s NAACP also weighed in on the video.

“What it shows, and what we’ve seen across this country, the cover of hate and bigotry has been pulled back for everyone to see. I think our work remains committed to pushing forward, fighting forward and continue to work on the legacy for those we stand upon each and every day,” said Dr. Corey Wiggins.

Rep. Bennie Thompson had this to say about the video:

"Unfortunately, being stupid and racist is not a crime. However, their symbols of hate portrayed at the Emmett Till memorial continues to put Mississippi in a bad light and is further proof that we still have a long way to go in the fight for racial justice.”

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