Welcome to another day in Trump’s America, where a bunch of white guys do something disgusting and racist and face virtually no consequences for it. I wish I could say I’m surprised by this story, but it’s pretty much par for the course at this point.
Back in March, Ben LeClere, a student at the University of Mississippi and a member of the Kappa Alpha fraternity, posted a photo of him and two of his fraternity brothers. In the photo, two of them are holding guns — one an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle — while posing in front of a bullet-ridden memorial for Emmett Till.
A quick refresher: Emmett Till was a 14-year-old boy from Mississippi who was lynched in 1955 after allegedly “offending a white woman” in a grocery store. The woman, Carolyn Bryant, admitted in 2008 that she fabricated the parts of the story that resulted in the boy’s slaying. Till’s brutal murder, and his killers’ subsequent acquittal after beating, shooting, and sinking his body, was a major event in the Civil Rights Movement, and his legacy lives on to this day.
It is a painful and shameful event in American history. The memorial signifies the place where Till’s body was found, which makes the photo in question especially disturbing. In the photo, the memorial is covered in bullet holes. It’s unclear whether LeClere and his friends were the ones who shot it, but it’s messed up either way.
The image reportedly had hundreds of likes. It was eventually deleted from Instagram, but not before someone filed a bias complaint with the University of Mississippi. Sadly, an Ole Miss spokesman stated that “the students were not disciplined in response to the bias complaint because the incident occurred off-campus and, despite being offensive, was not a violation of the school’s code of conduct.” Instead, the university turned the case over to the police, who turned it over to the FBI, who said they won’t investigate because the photo “did not constitute a specific threat.”
So great, not a single person cares enough to actually investigate these guys? I know you can’t just throw someone in jail for posting an offensive photo, but posing with guns at a civil rights memorial seems pretty threatening, and it worries me that a university wouldn’t take some disciplinary action against them.
Surprisingly, the only institution that actually seems to care is the Kappa Alpha fraternity, who suspended the three students in the photo. I say surprisingly because Kappa Alpha literally considers Robert E. Lee to be their “spiritual founder.” …Yeah. At my university, the KA chapter literally built a wall around their house as a form of support for Trump. And somehow they’re the only ones who see this photo as a real problem. Cool cool cool.
The one glimmer of hope still left here is that the photo has now been passed along to the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department for investigation, but I have my doubts that it will really lead to anything concrete. Mississippi is Republican as it gets, so its attitude on matters like this probably falls into the “boys will be boys” category.
Images: Instagram; Giphy