[UPDATE 8/2/19 5:34pm PT: "Here's Proof Ole Miss Knew Identities of Two Students Who Posed in Front of Shot-Up Emmett Till Sign, But Did Little" From ProPublica]
Emmet Till was 14 years old when he was tortured and murdered in 1955 because he was accused of offending a white woman in a grocery store in Mississippi (the woman later admitted she made up most of her story). The two white men charged with torturing and murdering him were acquitted by an all-white jury, though they later admitted killing Till. The murder and trial were instrumental in kicking off the civil rights movement.
The above photo was taken and posted to Instagram in March. It shows three white men, all students of the University of Mississippi, posing in front of a sign honoring Till. Two of the men are brandishing rifles, and are grinning.
Kappa Alpha suspended the trio on Wednesday, after the news organizations provided a copy of the photo to fraternity officials at Ole Miss. The fraternity, which honors Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee as its "spiritual founder" on its website, has a history of racial controversy, including an incident in which students wore blackface at a Kappa Alpha sponsored Halloween party at the University of Virginia in 2002.
Patrick Weems, executive director of the Emmett Till Memorial Commission, takes down a bullet-riddled sign honoring the slain youth, whose death helped propel the civil rights movement in America. (Courtesy of Emmett Till Interpretive Center)
"The photo is inappropriate, insensitive and unacceptable. It does not represent our chapter," Taylor Anderson, president of Ole Miss' Kappa Alpha Order, wrote in an email. "We have and will continue to be in communication with our national organization and the University."
After viewing the photo, U.S. Attorney Chad Lamar of the Northern District of Mississippi in Oxford said the information has been referred to the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division for further investigation.
"We will be working with them closely," he said Thursday.