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Marker No. 4 for Emmett Till Boasts New Fortifications

Newser — Jenn Gidman

Past markers for Emmett Till have been shot at, thrown in the Tallahatchie River, covered in graffiti, and doused in acid. Now, the fourth memorial at a Mississippi site for the black teen tortured and killed murdered in 1955 is in place, and it's been fortified against at least some of those acts of vandalism.

Local 24 Mississippi shows a photo of the new sign dedicated on Saturday, and CBS News notes its sturdier make: It's 500 pounds, made of steel, and covered with a bulletproof glass front.

The marker's troubled history made beefing up the sign a necessity. "This is not just driving down the highway and you see a sign and shoot it," Patrick Weems, head of the Emmett Till Memorial Commission, tells the Washington Post.

"It's a very remote site. ... Unfortunately, we have people who go all the way out of the way to vandalize it."

"Vandalism is a hate crime," Airickca Gordon-Taylor, one of Till's family members who attended the dedication ceremony, tells the New York Times.

"Basically my family is still being confronted with a hate crime against Emmett Till and it's almost 65 years later." Her mother, who lived under the same roof as Emmett as a child and was just 7 when he was killed, recalls that Emmett's mother "cried every day" after his death.

"I still have sadness for her pain," Ollie Gordon says. "I can't imagine losing my child." Weems hopes the new marker will spur "new conversations" on what happened to Till.

"We just have to be resilient and know there are folks out there that don't want to know this history or who want to erase the history," he tells CBS.

"We are just going to ... [continue] to put [the markers] back up and ... make sure that Emmett didn't die in vain."

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