Jesse Lyons, assistant executive director of the Kappa Alpha Order’s national office in Lexington, Virginia, announced the Ole Miss chapter suspended three students pictured posing with guns beside a bullet-ridden memorial to lynching victim, Emmett Till.
According to CBS News, Ole Miss spokesman Rod Guajardo said the image was reported back in March to the university’s Bias Incident Response Team, where incidents involving students, faculty or staff being targeted because of their race or other characteristics are reported. Guajardo said the university asked the FBI to investigate, but the FBI allegedly declined to open an inquiry because the photo “did not pose a specific threat.”
Guajardo called the image “offensive and hurtful” but said the university hasn’t disciplined the students because the photo was taken off-campus and was not part of a university event.
“The making of the photo was unrelated to any event or activity of the chapter. It is inappropriate, insensitive, and unacceptable. It does not represent our Kappa Alpha Order,” Lyons wrote in an email. The fraternity and university are working together and Guajardo said Ole Miss is “ready to assist the fraternity with educational opportunities for those members and the chapter.”
Last year, the sign honoring Emmett Till was vandalized 35 days after being replaced due to previous vandalism. Images of the sign went viral in 2016 after it was shot up with over 40 bullet holes.
Patrick Weems, the commission’s executive director, said the commission is already working on a fourth marker that’s made of hardened steel and more resistant to bullets. He said the commission is also negotiating a lease for 2 acres at the river’s edge for a fuller memorial site.
“We already have a new sign on its way,” Weems said.