It’s unsurprising but it hurts all the same news, a grand jury has declined to prosecute the white woman who set off the lynching of Emmett Till.
According to the Associated Press, Leflore County District Attorney Dewayne Richardson said Tuesday that neither an unserved warrant from 1955 nor the newly unearthed memoir describing what led to Emmette’s brutal and racist killing were enough to charge the KKKaren prototype, Carolyn Bryant Donham, with kidnapping and manslaughter.
After listening to several hours of testimony from witnesses and investigators, the Leflore County grand jury determined last week that there was insufficient evidence to reopen the case at all.
Look, it’s probably not the jury’s fault in this case. I’m sure they had to follow legal precedent and judicial instructions and all, but it just really seems like no one in a position of authority in Mississippi was ever interested in getting justice for Emmett and his family. It just doesn’t seem like America’s justice system is designed in a way that would allow for accountability for what white supremacy has done to Black victims past or present.
At the very least, it’s still the uphill battle that it shouldn’t be.
Rev. Wheeler Parker, Jr., Emmett Till’s cousin and the last living witness to Till’s abduction in 1955, didn’t fault the prosecutor for the decision to let sleeping lynchings lie.
“The prosecutor tried his best, and we appreciate his efforts, but he alone cannot undo hundreds of years of anti-Black systems that guaranteed those who killed Emmett Till would go unpunished, to this day,” Parker said in a statement. “The fact remains that the people who abducted, tortured, and murdered Emmett did so in plain sight, and our American justice system was and continues to be set up in such a way that they could not be brought to justice for their heinous crimes.”