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Ole Miss students suspended from frat after they posed with guns in front of Emmett Till memorial

Three University of Mississippi students have been suspended from their fraternity and face possible investigation by the Department of Justice after they posed with guns in front of the heavily vandalized sign honoring Emmett Till. 

The photo, obtained by the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting and ProPublica, was posted on one of the student’s private Instagram back in March. 

It showed three students – Ben LeClere, John Lowe and a third student – posing with guns in front of the roadside plaque commemorating the place where the 14-year-old black boy’s body was recovered from the Tallahatchie River. 

The photo showed three students – Ben LeClere, John Lowe and a third student – posing with guns in front of the roadside plaque commemorating Emmett Till

The Chicago native was tortured and murdered in August 1955 for allegedly disrespecting a white woman. An all-white, all-male jury acquitted two white men who were accused of the homicide

His death catapulted the civil rights movement after his mother – Mamie Till-Mobley – decided to showcase his brutal beating by having an open casket funeral. 

Till was tortured and murdered in August 1955 for allegedly disrespecting a white woman, and his death catapulted the civil rights movement

In the photo, LeClere can be seen holding a shotgun while Lowe holds a AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. All three members were members of the Kappa Alpha Order. 

LeClere posted the photo on March 1st for Lowe’s birthday, with the caption: ‘one of Memphis’s finest and the worst influence I’ve ever met.’ 

It is unknown whether a fourth person was involved as lights were used to illuminate the screen and someone would have taken the photo – unless a timer was used. 

Five days after LeClere posted the photo, a person filed a bias report at Ole Miss’s Office of Student Conduct. The report speculated that a fourth person had to have been present.   

‘The photo is on Instagram with hundreds of ‘likes,’ and no one said a thing,’ the complaint read. ‘I cannot tell Ole Miss what to do, I just thought it should be brought to your attention.’ 

As the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting and ProPublica looked over the complaint and started contacting members of Kappa Alpha, the photo was removed. It had received a total of 274 likes.

LeClere (pictured) posted the photo on March 1st for Lowe's birthday, with the caption: 'one of Memphis's finest and the worst influence I've ever met'

LeClere (pictured) posted the photo on March 1st for Lowe’s birthday, with the caption: ‘one of Memphis’s finest and the worst influence I’ve ever met’

The three in the picture were suspended from the fraternity on Wednesday. 

‘The photo is inappropriate, insensitive and unacceptable. It does not represent our chapter,’ Taylor Anderson, president of Ole Miss’ Kappa Alpha Order, saidin an email. ‘We have and will continue to be in communication with our national organization and the University.’ 

The fraternity has a history of racial controversy, including a 2002 incident at the University of Virginia when students wore black face at a KA sponsored Halloween Party. 

They also refer to Robert E Lee – the commander of the Confederate States Army  – as their ‘Spiritual Founder,’ on their website. 
It is not clear whether the students were vandalizing the sign or posing before it

It is not clear whether the students were vandalizing the sign or posing before it

Erected in 2008, the sign has been repeatedly vandalized. The first version of the sign was thrown into the river, while the second sign was shot with 317 bullets or shotgun pellets before it was removed. The third sign was the one in the post

Erected in 2008, the sign has been repeatedly vandalized. The first version of the sign was thrown into the river, while the second sign was shot with 317 bullets or shotgun pellets before it was removed. The third sign was the one in the post

It is not clear whether the students were vandalizing the sign or posing before it. 

The fraternity suspended the members on Wednesday. They also refer to Robert E Lee - the commander of the Confederate States Army - as their 'Spiritual Founder,' on their website

The fraternity suspended the members on Wednesday. They also refer to Robert E Lee – the commander of the Confederate States Army – as their ‘Spiritual Founder,’ on their website

Erected in 2008, the sign has been repeatedly vandalized. The first version of the sign was thrown into the river, while the second sign was shot with 317 bullets or shotgun pellets before it was removed. The third sign has been damaged with 10 bullets holes and was removed last week. A fourth is to be installed soon. 

U.S. Attorney Chad Lamar of the Northern District of Mississippi in Oxford looked over the photo and said that the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division would be looking into the incident.

‘We will be working with them closely,’ he said.

Ole Miss officials have called the photo ‘offensive and hurtful.’   

Rod Guajardo, a university spokesman, said that the school received a copy of the post in March. They have referred the matter to the university police, who turned the case over tho the FBI. 

FBI are said to have told police that they wouldn’t investigated the incident as the photo did not pose a specific threat.  

Guajardo added that the photo did not violate the university’s code of conduct as the image occurred off campus and wasn’t tied to a Ole Miss-affiliated event.  

Rod Guajardo, a university spokesman, said that the school received a copy of the post in March. They have referred the matter to the university police, who turned the case over tho the FBI

Rod Guajardo, a university spokesman, said that the school received a copy of the post in March. They have referred the matter to the university police, who turned the case over tho the FBI

‘We stand ready to assist the fraternity with educational opportunities for those members and the chapter,’ Guajardo said, adding that the university would help make ‘deliberate, honest and candid conversations while making clear that we unequivocally reject attitudes that do not respect the dignity of each individual in our community.’

The latest news in the case comes as Till’s cousin, Deborah Watts, was in the final stages of planning a moment of silence on Thursday to honor her cousin. 

Watts, the co-founder of the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation, said that the gathering would be ‘a silent yet powerful protest against racism, hatred and violence.’ 

Thursday is Till’s 78th birthday.  

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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