Unserved Warrant for Carolyn Bryant Donham's Arrest in Till Lynching Discovered in Box in Courthouse BasementBreaking News
tags: racism, civil rights, African American history, lynching, Emmett Till, Mississippi
A group from the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation working with filmmaker Keith Beauchamp have uncovered the decades-old warrant for the arrest of Carolyn Bryant Donham, the wife of one of 14-year-old Emmett Till’s murderers in 1955. The team discovered the warrant on Tuesday, June 21, in an archived file folder and seeks the arrest of “Mrs. Roy Bryant” for the kidnapping of the Black teenager, down from Chicago to visit family in Money, Miss.
Donham has long been among the last remaining survivors of those alleged to have been involved with Till’s kidnapping, torture and murder. Eyewitnesses, including the 2005 testimony of Donham herself, have placed her in the vicinity of Emmett Till on the night of his murder, Aug. 28, 1955.
Police never served the 1955 warrant to Donham, meaning that it is possible for law enforcement to seek her arrest. She is 88, and her last known address was in North Carolina.
The Emmett Till Legacy Foundation includes members of Till’s family, including cousins Deborah and Teri Watts, who previously delivered a petition to Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch requesting the prosecution of Donham for the kidnapping.
“We’ve got a promise to many that we would persist, and that’s why we’re here today,” Watts said near the Mississippi State Capitol in March this year.
Beauchamp, who long investigated Till murder leading to a feature film “Till” that will open in October, worked with the boy’s mother Mamie Till Bradley until her death in 2003. He has believed for years that an arrest warrant for then-Mrs. Bryant existed and had not been served, as he said last week at Southern University in Baton Rouge. And he’s been working with the team to look for it in recent months and was there when they finally found it.
“The next step is to go after Carolyn,” Beauchamp urged then. “She needs to be held accountable for her participation in kidnapping and murder. I believe that she should be charged under culpable manslaughter.”
Beauchamp, who is also an advisory board member of the Mississippi Free Press, tweeted today after the Associated Press reported on the warrant discovery that authorities can still serve the same warrant against Donham now.
The prosecution of Donham for involvement in Till’s abduction has long been an unresolved thread in the saga of Emmett Till. Bryant and Milam cited the encounter between Till and Bryant at the grocery store in Money, Miss., as the instigating event that inspired Till’s kidnapping. But Donham’s alleged presence at his abduction, torture or murder has not been proven in court.
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