Protesters seeking justice for Emmett Till, a 14-year-old Black boy killed in Mississippi in 1955, crossed state lines to voice their fury at police failing to arrest the lady at the core of his murder weeks after the discovery of a warrant issued for her arrest nearly 70 years ago. The campaigners hope that local officials will extradite the octogenarian back to Mississippi to face charges in the death that some argue ignited the civil rights movement.
On Wednesday, July 6, dozens of protesters descended on Raleigh, North Carolina, in search of Carolyn Bryant Donham, 88, who told her husband years ago that Till whistled at her while he was at her country store in Money, Mississippi, prompting Roy Bryant, his brother J.W. Milam, and others who went unindicted to kidnap and kill the boy. This week’s activists, who believe the woman lives in or near the North Carolina capitol, have visited two locations in search of her: an apartment complex and a senior care facility.
They aim to identify her and then have local law enforcement bring her back to Mississippi, where she, like Bryant and Milam, will be prosecuted, jailed, and tried for Till’s murder. The recent interest in her arrest comes only weeks after the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation and Keith Beauchamp discovered the woman’s arrest warrant, dated Aug. 29, 1955, in the basement of a Mississippi courthouse.
On Wednesday, June 29, the Mississippi Free Press published a copy of the warrant.
It read, “We command You To Take the Body of J W Milam, Roy Bryant, and Mrs. Roy Bryant if to be found in your County … to answer the State of Mississippi on a charge of Kidnapping.”
Mrs. Roy Bryant, now Donham, was not picked up. The sheriff’s office marked off Milam and Bryant’s names, indicating who was arrested at the time. Authorities said that despite the fact that the initial date was decades ago, the woman can still serve the same warrant.
Dewayne Richardson, District Attorney for the Fourth Circuit District Court of Mississippi, has not spoken out about making an arrest.
The justice seekers are doing everything they can to ensure that Donham’s warrant is served.
“Time to face your demons,” one activist yelled outside the senior home. “Please come out.”
The presence of the demonstrators astonished several of the facility’s inhabitants, with one sharing the site being placed on lockdown as a safety precaution. As some of the activists made their way inside, Raleigh police combed the area.
According to the Daily Beast, one person commented, “I understand that Ms. Bryant is in her mid-to-late 80s, but understandable, this is a crime she did when she was 22.” It’s time to hold her accountable after sixty years.”
Protesters say they will continue to look for Donham in the hopes that she will face justice.
Social media users also chimed in. “She lived free for a long time while he is gone forever,” one person stated. “They were going to haul her out like the men that came and snatched him,” said another.
This will be difficult because the case was officially closed by the Department of Justice in December of 2021.
Donham’s prosecution would be difficult, according to the agency, since “no federal hate crime legislation existed in 1955, and the statute of limitations has run on the limited civil-rights statutes that were in force at the time.”