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Grand jury doesn’t indict white woman whose accusations spurred Emmett Till lynching

Grand jury doesn’t indict white woman whose accusations spurred Emmett Till lynching
Brutal 1955 incident helped galvanise civil rights movement

A Mississippi grand jury on Tuesday declined to indict an 88-year-old white woman whose accusations of sexual misconduct against Black teenager Emmett Till drove his infamous 1955 lynching.

Jurors in Leflore County passed up on charging Carolyn Bryant Donham with manslaughter and kidnapping, despite newly uncovered evidence that changed the nature of the historic case.

Em junho, a team of investigators, including members of Till’s family, discovered an unserved warrant for Ms Donham’s arrest buried in a courthouse basement. The documents charged her with aiding the kidnapping of the 14-year-old from the home of his relatives in Money, Mississippi.

In an unpublished memoir viewed in July by the Associated Press, Donham said her then-husband Roy Bryant and brother-in-law JW Millam kidnapped Till at gunpoint and brought him to her for identification, where she says she claimed she didn’t know the teen in a belated attempt to help him.

Till’s body was found disfigured and tossed in the Tallahatchie River, and photos from his open casket funeral were a pivotal, shocking moment in the civil rights movement.

The grand jury’s decision could mark the end of a legal saga that has spanned nearly a century.

Bryant and Millam were tried before an all-white jury and acquitted, but admitted to the killing three months later in an interview with Look revista.

Dentro 2018, federal officials re-opened the cased, after the publication of a book called The Blood of Emmeett Till by Timothy Tyson, where Ms Donham was described as saying her allegations that Till grabbed her and made lewd comments were false.

In December 2021, the Justice Department announced that its probe was over, and that Ms Donham told the FBI she had never recanted her accusations.

“Even if such evidence could be developed, no federal hate crime laws existed in 1955, and the statute of limitations has run on the only civil rights statutes that were in effect at that time,” the agency said in a statement at the time. "Como tal, even if a living suspect could now be identified, a federal prosecution for Till’s abduction and murder would not be possible.”

State officials also have said in recent years they are unlikely to pursue a case.

Em março, President Joe Biden signed the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act into law, making lynching a federal hate crime.