This 1955 photo shows Emmett Till in Chicago, about six months before he was killed. (Family Photo)

New Alert System Named in Honor of Emmett Till Unveiled to Combat Racial Hate Crimes in Maryland

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The Caucus of African American Leaders recently unveiled a new alert system that notifies Black leaders about any racially motivated hate crimes in the state of Maryland. 

Named after Emmett Till, the Emmett Till Alerts system recently went into effect in the state this week. Similar in its construction to the Amber Alert system, the new privately funded warning system sends out news of any racist incidents or hate crimes to approximately 167 Black leaders, including elected state officials, clergy members and nonprofit civil rights organizers amongst others. Focusing on credible threats, once a crime is reported, a specific group of people will determine whether the threat should be sent out as an alert through the Emmett Till Alerts system. 

Delivered through text message and email, the alert will signal the level of threat of the crime using a three-level scale: low, medium and high. With a high alert, the system identifies the threat that’s most likely to result in violence, according to the Caucus of African American Leaders per TV station WJZ. 

“In the year 2022, the FBI director, Christopher Wray, has said that the greatest domestic terrorist threat to the nation is white supremacy and we have seen, in our lifetime, white supremacists murder people of color simply because they were Black,” said Carl Snowden, the leader of the Anne Arundel County division of the Caucus of African American Leader, during the press conference for the warning system. “When the FBI director said often that the greatest domestic terrorism threat is white supremacists, we have to take hate crimes and terrorist threats seriously.”

The unveiling of the Emmett Till Alerts system comes just two weeks after a Mississippi grand jury ruled that Carolyn Bryant Donham, the white woman whose accusations led to the murder of  14-year-old Emmett Till, wouldn’t be indicted on charges of kidnapping and manslaughter. 

The decision was made in favor of Bryant despite an unserved arrest warrant for her that was recently found. Dated August 29, 1955, and approved by the Leflore County clerk, the warrant was sent out for Bryant, her husband and her brother-in-law; writing on the back notes that it was never served because Bryant couldn’t be found at the time of its sending, according to the New York Times. 

“Today we announce the launching of the Emmett Till Alert while our country continues its indecisiveness to meet the Black community at the Healing Streams of Justice and Equity,” said Bishop Antonio Palmer at the press conference for the unveiling of the system. “The Emmett Till Alert is one aspect of community reform that will help us protect ourselves while America still ropes in the darkness of indecision.”

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