If you drive along Mississippi’s Tallahatchie river, you might encounter a purple sign at Graball Landing. The marker was erected in 2013 to commemorate the spot where 15-year-old Emmett Till’s body was recovered. For the third time in its short history, the sign has been vandalized—riddled with bullet holes once again.
As the Clarion Ledger reports, the historic marker had been up for little more than a month before suffering the same fate as the sign before it. The first time the sign went up, one writer told the Ledger, it had been torn from the ground and thrown into the river.
The fact that the sign commemorating the murdered teen’s death met a similar end to Till himself was “an irony not lost on the local black community.”
In August 1955, Till was was tortured, killed, and thrown into the river for allegedly whistling at a white woman. When his body was finally recovered, it was found weighted down by a 75 lb cotton gin fan tied to him with barbed wire.
Till’s brutal death—and the supposed infraction that caused it—is widely credited with galvanizing the Civil Rights movement. Last month, the Justice Department announced it was reopening an investigation into his murder as a result of new information, likely the recent confession by the white woman Till allegedly hit on, Carolyn Donham, that she had lied about her interactions with Till.
The landmark is the final site on the Civil Rights Driving Tour in Tallahatchie County, the Ledger reports. The news outlet also notes that signs commemorating Till’s death have been frequent targets of vandalism since the state began publicly memorializing him in 2005. While the Emmett Till Interpretive Center says it’s already begun the process of replacing the sign, some believe the bullets send a message the public needs to see.
Dave Tell, author of the upcoming book Remembering Emmett Till, said the memory of the teen’s murder “still cuts a rift through the heart of the modern day Delta.”
He told the Ledger, “the bullet holes bear eloquent witness to the fact that work remains to be done.”