The University of Mississippi is in the news this week for two separate incidents involving guns.
Three Ole Miss students have been suspended from their fraternity and face possible investigation by the Department of Justice after they posed with guns in front of the heavily vandalized sign honoring Emmett Till, according to the Daily Mail.
The photo of the three men was posted on the Instagram page of one of the fraternity members, showing the Emmett Till Memorial sign riddled with bullets.
In the picture, three students — Ben LeClere, John Lowe, and a third individual — posed with guns in front of the roadside plaque commemorating the place where the 14-year-old’s body was recovered from the Tallahatchie River. Till, who was born in Chicago, was tortured and murdered in August 1955 for allegedly flirting with a white woman. An all-white, all-male jury acquitted two white men who were accused of the homicide.
In the photo posted on LeClere’s Instagram page, he can be seen holding the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle with other members of Kappa Alpha. LeClere added a caption to the photo.
“One of Memphis’s finest and the worst influence I’ve ever met.”
Soon after the photo was posted on Instagram in March, a bias report was filed with the university.
"It had received 274 likes" may be the most chilling line in this article about three college students posing with guns in front of a bullet-riddled memorial for Emmett Till https://t.co/0HqRo9y9hc
— Chris Megerian (@ChrisMegerian) July 25, 2019
The complaint described why the person was offended by the post.
“The photo is on Instagram with hundreds of ‘likes,’ and no one said a thing. I cannot tell Ole Miss what to do, I just thought it should be brought to your attention.”
The Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting and ProPublica looked over the complaint and started contacting members of Kappa Alpha, which led to the photo’s removal. It had received a total of 274 likes.
Taylor Anderson, president of Ole Miss’ Kappa Alpha Order, released a statement in reference to the incident.
“The photo is inappropriate, insensitive and unacceptable. It does not represent our chapter. We have and will continue to be in communication with our national organization and the University.”
On the Kappa Alpha website, they call Robert E. Lee, the commander of the Confederate States Army, their Spiritual Founder, suggesting to some that there are some issues involving racism within the organization.
It’s not clear whether the photo was memorializing vandalism or if the fraternity members were just posing with the sign while holding guns.
The sign was erected in 2008 and has been repeatedly vandalized ever since, with the first version of the sign being tossed in the river.