The cousin of Emmett Till, Patricia Sterling, filed a federal lawsuit last week against current Leflore County sheriff, Ricky Banks. The suit is demanding that Sheriff Banks serve an arrest warrant to Carolyn Bryant Donham for her role in Emmett’s death.
The suit comes after an unserved 1955 arrest warrant for Carolyn was discovered at the Leflore County courthouse last year, according to the Associated Press.
Lawsuit Comes After Discovery Of An Unserved Arrest Warrant For Carolyn Bryant Donham
However, the office of Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch said in July there was no new evidence to try to pursue a criminal case against Carolyn, who is now said to be 89-years-old.
And a month later, a grand jury declined to indict Donham after hearing more than seven hours of testimony from investigators and witnesses.
Till, who was just 14-years-old at the time, was in town from Chicago to visit relatives when he allegedly whistled at Donham, according to a cousin who witnessed the interaction.
The accusation alone violated the racist laws put in place during the Jim Crow-era South, and led to the horrific death of Till, who was kidnapped from his bed, tortured, shot, and dumped into the Tallahatchie River.
Carolyn’s husband at the time, Roy Bryant, and his half-brother, J.W. Milam, were arrested and later acquitted in the case.
“We are using the available means at our disposal to try to achieve justice on behalf of the Till family,” Sterling’s attorney, Trent Walker, said Friday.
Till’s Death Became Catalyst For Civil Rights Movement After Open-Casket Funeral Showed His Mutilated Body
Sterling herself went on to claim in court papers that Till’s whistling at her “sent (her husband) and J.W. Milan into a rage,” resulting in the boy’s death.
She went on to say the ensuing murder of her young cousin “resulted in the mutilation of Till’s body into an unrecognizable condition,” the outlet reports.
“But for Carolyn Bryant falsely claiming to her husband that Emmett Till assaulted her Emmett would not have been murdered,” Sterling said in court papers. “It was Carolyn Bryant’s lie that sent Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam into a rage, which resulted in the mutilation of Emmett Till’s body into (an) unrecognizable condition.”
Carolyn Bryant, The white woman who was responsible for all this is still alive today. Not just alive, but free pic.twitter.com/c1at6kUkpH
— 👑OGYAM👑 (@KwabenaGyam_) February 5, 2023
The torture and killing of Till in the Mississippi Delta ultimately became a catalyst for the civil rights movement after his mother insisted on having an open-casket funeral in Chicago, with Jet magazine publishing photos of his mutilated body.
Till’s mother’s decision to have an open-casket funeral was said to have been made to show the terror of racism and the death of her son, which was a determining factor that further encouraged the birth of the civil rights movement.
Dozens Of Activists Stormed Home For The Elderly Where Carolyn Lives To Demand Arrest Warrant Be Served
In July, The Shade Room reported that dozens of activists gathered in Raleigh, North Carolina on Wednesday to demand the 67-year-old arrest warrant be served to Bryant Donham.
The protesters had gotten word on where Carolyn now resides in Raleigh, and dozens of demonstrators marched at a facility for the elderly as well as other locations to demand that the 89-year-old woman be held accountable for her role in Emmett’s death.
Meanwhile in March, President Joe Biden officially signed the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act into law, The Shade Room previously reported.
He was joined in the Rose Garden outside of the White House by Vice President Kamala Harris, Michelle Duster, who is the great-granddaughter of Ida B. Wells, administration officials and members of Congress while he signed the law.