A group of protesters in Raleigh, North Carolina, demanded justice for Emmett Till’s murder by searching for the woman responsible for the brutal killing of the 14-year-old nearly seven decades later.
On Wednesday, the protesters called for Carolyn Bryant Donham, now in her 80s, to be held accountable for her actions after discovering an unserved arrest warrant for the accuser, WRAL reported.
Several of Till’s family members and demonstrators went to multiple locations in the city where Donham may have sought residence.
“It’s time for you to answer,” a protester told the outlet while located outside of a Raleigh home.
“I want her to go turn herself in, and I want her to not be able to get no peace until she sees Emmett Till’s face,” another protester said.
Additionally, the protesters stopped by the senior living facility hoping to confront Donham for being at the forefront of the heinous crime.
“Time to face your demons. Come on out,” one of the demonstrators said.
Some protesters were located inside the senior living facility, prompting a brief lockdown with police responding to the scene minutes later.
“I understand you have dementia, but at what point do you say enough is enough? And at what point do you say I have to hold myself accountable, regardless of the consequences,” said Monte, who chose not to reveal his real name.
He and Till’s family have called for Donham to be extradited to Mississippi and face multiple charges, including murder and kidnapping.
“I do understand that Ms. Bryant is in her mid- to late-80s, but understandably, this is a crime she committed when she was 22. Sixty years later, it’s time for her to be held accountable,” Monte told the outlet.
As News Onyx previously reported, Till’s family members located the decades-old unserved arrest warrant last week in the basement of the Leflore County courthouse in Mississippi. Donham was initially addressed as “Mrs. Roy Bryant” on the warrant dated Aug. 29, 1955.
Since then, Till’s family has pushed for authorities to serve Donham with the arrest warrant.
“You cannot ignore this. That is the reason why the warrant needs to be served, and it will help create change,” said Till’s cousin Priscilla Sterling. “If this is what’s needed to do for us to change our mindset, our behaviors and attitudes in the society, then this will do it. This will do it. Execute the warrant.”
Till was a Chicago native visiting his family in Mississippi when Donham accused the teen of whistling, flirting and making obscene gestures at her, The New York Times reported. Donham’s then-husband, Roy Bryant, and his half-brother, J.W. Milam, kidnapped, tortured and killed Till for what was deemed a crime in the south. The pair were acquitted of all charges against them, only to confess to the teen’s murder after evading jail time.
The teen’s murder has evoked many lawmakers to create a bill that would consider lynching a federal hate crime. In January 2021, Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-IL) proposed the Emmitt Till Anti-Lynching Act, which would mark the act as a criminal offense.
While it took more than 100 years to receive support, President Joe Biden signed the bill into law on March 29, 2022, News Onyx reported.
According to the legislation, a person could face “a fine, a prison term of up to 30 years, or both—on an individual who conspires to commit a hate crime offense that results in death or serious bodily injury or that includes kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill.”
Rush told Vox that signing the bill into law was long overdue while condemning the racial acts the country has imposed on Black Americans.
“Lynching is a clear example of one’s inhumanity toward another. It’s a uniquely American act of terrorism that is motivated by hatred, and, before today, was never punished by our legal system,” Rush explained.
He added, “Emmett Till would’ve been 80 years old. I’m 75, and I just imagine the kinds of contributions he would have made to our society. Biden’s signing of the Emmett Till Anti-lynching Act sends a message that America will no longer continue to ignore this shameful chapter of our history and that the government engaged in legislative failure for far too long.”