Ole Miss fraternity brothers suspended after posing with guns in front of Emmett Till memorial
A photo showing the three men posing at the memorial was originally posted to Instagram in March. That image, posted by Ben LeClere, shows LeClere holding a shotgun as two of his fraternity brothers stand and squat alongside him.
The memorial marks the place where Till, a black teenager who was lynched in 1955 after being accused of offending a white woman, was recovered from a river following his death. Till's death quickly became a rallying point for the civil rights movement: More than 100,000 people came to see his body in the days following his death.
LeClere eventually deleted the photo, but not before someone who saw it filed a complaint to the university. From there, the school informed the police, and later the FBI.
The fraternity suspended all three men on Wednesday, after news outlets provided a copy of the image to Kappa Alpha officials.
"The making of the photo was unrelated to any event or activity of our chapter," the fraternity said in a statement. "The chapter's leadership learned of the photo late last night. The photo is inappropriate, insensitive, and unacceptable. It does not represent our chapter. We have and will continue to be in communication with our national organization and the University.”
Ole Miss said it supports Kappa Alpha's actions but is unable to take any further steps itself.
"While the image is offensive, it did not present a violation of university code of conduct. It occurred off campus and was not part of a university-affiliated event," a statement by campus spokesman Rod Guajardo said.
The memorial, which was erected in 2008, has faced a series of vandalism attempts over the past decade. The original sign was ripped down and stolen within months of its completion, and a replacement sign was shot numerous times.
Because of the vandalism, a new bulletproof sign is now in the works.