Louisville honors Breonna Taylor. Photo by Darron Cummings. Front photo by AP
"'Negro Justice," noted an FBI report years ago, was "an unwritten, de facto, separate legal system where the gravity of the crime was determined in large part by its impact on whites," resulting in a black community with "almost no recourse" when they were victims of crimes by whites. Among the racist atrocities the report referenced was the 1955 kidnapping, pistol-whipping, torture and murder - by shooting him in the head, wrapping barbed wire around his neck, hooking the wire to a cotton gin fan and dumping it/him in a river - of 14-year-old Emmett Till for allegedly whistling at a white woman in Money, Mississippi. Local good ole boys Roy Bryant and J. W. Milam were quickly arrested; their trial, before a jury of 12 white men, began on Sept 19. Five days later, despite several eye witnesses and much damning evidence, and after deliberating just over an hour - said one juror, "If we hadn't stopped to drink pop, it wouldn't have took that long" - the jury acquitted them on Sept. 23 - the same date, 65 years later, a Louisville grand jury declined to charge anyone for Breonna Taylor's death. A photo shows a jubilant Bryant and Milam celebrating; they were never held accountable, and a 2017 book revealed the woman had recanted her testimony against Till. "It's not who killed him," reads a note on a now-defaced plaque to Till. "It's what killed him." Till's prescient mother Mamie Bradley, who could only identify her son's mutilated body by a ring he wore, famously insisted on an open casket at his Chicago funeral so people "could see what they did to him." Unless an example was made of his lynchers, she told reporters, "It won't be safe for a Negro to walk the streets anywhere in America." She should have added, "to sleep."
Celebrating getting away with murder 65 years ago, just like today.
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Louisville. Photo by John Minchillo
Louisville hears the news. Photo by Darron Cummings