Ben LeClere and John Lowe are among three Ole Miss students who have been suspended from their fraternity for posing with firearms in front of a bullet-ridden memorial for Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black boy who was lynched in Mississippi back in 1955 and went on to become a civil rights icon.
According to Pro Publica, the students also face possible investigation by the Department of Justice.
The photo — which was posted to a private Instagram account back in March — showed LeClere, Lowe, and a third frat bro posing in front of the commemorative plaque that is located where Till’s body was recovered from the Tallahatchie River. LeClere is seen holding a shotgun, Lowe is posing in front of the sign, and the unidentified student has an AR-15.
The students are reportedly members of the Kappa Alpha fraternity.
Here is the photo in question:
And here are closer photos of the sign:
From the report:
It is not clear whether the fraternity students shot the sign or are simply posing before it. The sign is part of a memorial effort by the Emmett Till Memorial Commission, a Mississippi civil rights group, and has been repeatedly vandalized, most recently in August 2018. Till’s death helped propel the modern civil rights movement in America.
“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 to Pro Publica. “We have and will continue to be in communication with our national organization and the University.”
This is not the first time the Kappa Alpha Order — which lists Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee as its “spiritual founder” on its official website — has faced racial controversy. There have previously been Halloween parties with blackface, members wearing Confederate uniforms, and a faux “wall” with anti-Latino messages. A detailed look at the fraternity’s history of racism can be seen here.