Report shows conflicting accounts of Ole Miss photo controversy

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After a controversial photo involving three Ole Miss students holding guns in front of the bullet-ridden Emmett Till marker surfaces online, a new report shows the university may have known more than initially reported.

The Center for Investigative Reporting says a bias complaint filed with the University of Mississippi in March identified two out of the three men pictured with guns in front of the marker. The report goes on to highlight discrepancies in the University’s response and its decision not to discipline those students.

The men in the picture were later identified as three students enrolled at the University of Mississippi and members of Kappa Alpha fraternity. Only two in the picture have been identified by the university. According to the Chancellor’s office, Ben LeClere is a junior majoring in managerial finance. John Lowe is not currently a student.

The sign, which marks the place where Till was killed by white men after he allegedly whistled at a white woman has been repeatedly vandalized. Till’s murder in 1955 served as a catalyst for organizers of the Civil Rights Movement.

On Monday, interim Chancellor Larry Sparks said there would be an internal investigation into the timeline surrounding events and the “breakdown in communication’ leading up to those decisions. Later that same night, Sparks issued an amended response which provides a rough timeline of the disciplinary process. The statement indicates the university was in the midst of conducting due diligence in regard to the bias complaint and it was waiting on a report from the FBI. Sparks says the process with the Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT) has not concluded.

Sparks’ statement says, “The university administration and its students, faculty, and staff are deeply concerned by the offensive and hurtful image captured in the photo at the Emmett Till historical marker. We are committed to keeping you informed.”

WJTV 12 has reached out to the university for more information on further disciplinary action, but have not heard back yet.

To see the full report by investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell, click here.

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