Less than two weeks after a new, bulletproof Emmett Till memorial plaque went up on the banks of the Tallahatchie River in Mississippi, a group of white supremacists was captured on camera attempting to film a propaganda video.
The footage came from a new surveillance system that accompanied the redesigned memorial, Patrick Weems, executive director of the Emmett Till Memorial Commission, told NBC News. Weems said it was the first such incident the commission had seen.
The video, which was posted on the Sumner Courthouse and Emmett Till Interpretive Center Facebook page on Saturday, shows a group of white people holding a white nationalist banner in front of two photographers/camera people. After identifying the plaque as a monument to a “civil rights movement for blacks,” one of the speakers then said, “What we want to know is, where are all of the white people?”
There are, as far as I can tell, three ways to interpret this statement: One is that they’re asking where white people were during Till’s death (buddy, hate to break it to you but....); the second is that they’re wondering where all the white visitors to the plaque are (hopefully, not waving white supremacist flags or rifles at it). The third—and likeliest—option is that they’re asking where the memorials for white people are.
In Mississippi. That’s like asking whether McDonald’s does fries.
The state is dripping in Confederate nostalgia. It is home to no small amount of schools, highways, lakes, and dams named after Confederate figureheads. Confederate monuments also flank the State Capitol, as well as dozens of courthouses, cemeteries and public spaces throughout the state. Where are all the memorials to white people? All those white nationalists had to do was spit and they would have hit one.
Which brings us back to what is obvious, but bears repeating: Racists aren’t actually concerned about having more white anything, it’s about making sure there is never a counternarrative. Any commemoration, monument or tribute to black life, progress, or history is seen as a threat.
This is why what happens to the white supremacists next, as shown on another video clip, is so satisfying: the group scurrying like roaches when the lights go on, scrambling to their cars in fear after a siren goes off. The sirens, according to NBC, are another recently upgraded security feature—one made necessary specifically because of all the white people eager to vandalize, mar, or mark Till’s memory.