Emmett Till’s family want woman who accused him arrested after her 1955 warrant was found in court basement

Francis Akhalbey June 30, 2022
Emmett Till was lynched after accusations that he flirted with a White woman -- Public Domain image

The family of Emmett Till have renewed their calls for the arrest of the White woman who accused him after her unserved 1955 charge warrant was recently found in the basement of a Mississippi court, The Associated Press reported.

Till, a Black teen, was lynched in Mississippi on August 28, 1955, after he was accused of flirting with Carolyn Bryant Donham. The search for Donham’s arrest warrant was initiated by Till’s family.

Leflore County Circuit Clerk Elmus Stockstill told the news outlet that the warrant was found last week. He said it was inside a box that had a file folder containing the document. The warrant named Donham as “Mrs. Roy Bryant.”

Stockstill also said the boxes contain documents segmented by a 10-year timeframe, but there wasn’t anything else to determine the whereabouts of the warrant. The warrant was issued on August 29, 1955. 

“They narrowed it down between the ’50s and ’60s and got lucky,” Stockstill said. He also confirmed the warrant was original.

The Emmett Till Legacy Foundation and two of Till’s relatives – Deborah Watts and Teri Watts – initiated the search. The two are calling on authorities to apprehend Donham now that the warrant has been found.

“Serve it and charge her,” Teri Watts said.

Till was lynched after Donham accused the Black teen of flirting with her at a family store in Money, Mississippi. His August 1955 killing set the growing Civil Rights Movement into motion and caused a rallying cry nationwide. Four days before his killing, it was rumored that he had flirted with Bryant. This speculation led to two White men kidnapping Till, later beating him, and shooting him dead.

Bryant’s then-husband, Roy Bryant, and his half-brother J.W. Milam were charged with Till’s murder and acquitted by an all-white jury. Both men, who have since died, confessed to the killing in a paid magazine interview months later.

And though the warrant for Donham’s arrest was circulated in the wake of Till’s death, the Leflore County sheriff at the time informed reporters that he did not want to “bother” Donham because she had to fend for her two young children, The Associated Press reported.

Donham is in her 80s and currently resides in North Carolina. In December, the Justice Department announced it was closing its re-investigation of the 14-year-old’s lynching.

Responding to the discovery of the warrant, Leflore County Sheriff Ricky Banks on Wednesday said that was “the first time I’ve known about a warrant.” Banks also said, “nothing was said about a warrant” while the case was being investigated by the former district attorney some years ago.

“I will see if I can get a copy of the warrant and get with the DA and get their opinion on it,” Banks said, adding that he’ll reach out to authorities in the city Donham is currently residing in if the arrest warrant is still valid.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: June 30, 2022


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