Kentucky town cancel Christmas parade plan protest calling arrest Emmett Till accuser Carolyn Donham

Kentucky town cancels Christmas parade over threats to SHOOT racial justice activists’ planned demonstration against dying Emmett Till accuser Carolyn Bryant Donham, who they believe lives locally

  • The town of Bowling Green, Kentucky, canceled its annual Christmas parade on Saturday after threats against protests related to lynching of Emmett Till in 1955
  • In a Facebook video Police Chief Michael Delaney said at least three groups were planning to protest at noon on Saturday 
  • One of threatened ‘to shoot anyone who is protesting’ or assisting protesters
  • Police have been unable to determine the credibility of the threat but decided to cancel the parade out of an abundance of caution
  • Protests are to demand justice for 14-year-old Till as white woman Carolyn Bryant Donham, his original accuser resides in the state
  • Now in her late 80s she accused Till of whistling at her in 1955 in Mississippi
  • Till was abducted, tortured, and lynched, in a case that drew national attention and helped galvanize attention on the civil rights movement
  • Donham was never arrested in connection with Till’s death, but a warrant for her arrest was found earlier this year in the basement of a Mississippi courthouse
  • A grand jury in Mississippi declined to indict Donham in August 

A Christmas parade that had been scheduled for Saturday in Kentucky has been canceled after authorities received threats directed at racial justice protesters at an Emmett Till rally scheduled for the same day.

The Jaycees’ annual Christmas parade in Bowling Green has been canceled out of ‘an excess of caution’, according to a statement by police. At least three groups planned to demonstrate outside the town’s Justice Center Saturday, leading to threats to shoot those racial justice advocates.

They believe Carolyn Bryant Donham – who accused Till of whistling at her in 1955, sealing his fate – lives locally. She was pictured for the first time in 20 years by DailyMail.com in August, and is receiving end-of-life care. 

The mistletoe market, which had also been planned to open in the town of 70,000 people, was also canceled on Saturday.

At least three groups had planned to demonstrate simultaneously at the city’s Justice Center on Saturday afternoon, according to a joint statement from the Bowling Green Police Department and the Warren County Sheriff’s Office.

The protest was aimed at demanding justice for Emmett Till, who was 14 when he was brutally beaten and shot in the head in 1955 after Bryant Donham said he whistled and touched her at a store in Mississippi.

In a Facebook video Bowling Green, Kentucky Police Chief Michael Delaney, right, said at least three groups were planning to protest at noon on Saturday. Sheriff Brett Hightower is seen left

In a Facebook video Bowling Green, Kentucky Police Chief Michael Delaney, right, said at least three groups were planning to protest at noon on Saturday. Sheriff Brett Hightower is seen left

Carolyn Bryant Donham is now 89 and still lives in Kentucky. DailyMail.com pictured her for the first time in 20 years in August, with the controversial figure now receiving end-of-life care

Carolyn Bryant Donham is now 89 and still lives in Kentucky. DailyMail.com pictured her for the first time in 20 years in August, with the controversial figure now receiving end-of-life care 

Authorities learned of the threats against protesters late on Friday evening, and finally cancelled the Christmas parade early on Saturday morning

Authorities learned of the threats against protesters late on Friday evening, and finally cancelled the Christmas parade early on Saturday morning 

Carolyn Bryant Donham is now 89 and still lives in Kentucky. She refused to talk to DailyMail.com when approached in August. She suffers from cancer, is legally blind, and is receiving end of life hospice care in the small, shared apartment.

When she was pictured earlier this year, tubes delivering oxygen looped over her ears and into her nose. 

Donham, photographed a younger age. She accused Till of whistling at her in a grocery store

Donham, photographed a younger age. She accused Till of whistling at her in a grocery store

Authorities learned of the threats against protesters late on Friday evening, according to the statement posted to Facebook.

‘Late in the evening, we learned that there was a threat to these protesters,’ Warren County Sheriff Brett Hightower said. ‘The specific threat threatens to shoot anyone who protests and anyone who helps protesters.’

Authorities have not been able to determine how credible the threat is but felt it important to issue an alert, Hightower said.

The Bowling Green Police Department is working with the Warren County Sheriff’s Office, Kentucky State Police, Department of Homeland Security and FBI to determine the origin of the threat.

‘The safety of our participants and spectators is ALWAYS are main focus. We have been in constant communication with law enforcement and have felt, all week, that we could provide a safe, fun event. With this latest information, we knew that postponing was our best option. We will be working, today, to come up with another date for the parade,’ the organizer of the Christmas parade posted on Facebook following its cancellation.  

Donham's husband, Roy Bryant, (right) and half-brother, JW Milam, (left) were arrested for Till's lynching, but acquitted. The pair later admitted guilt, but couldn't be prosecuted due to double-jeopardy laws

Donham’s husband, Roy Bryant, (right) and half-brother, JW Milam, (left) were arrested for Till’s lynching, but acquitted. The pair later admitted guilt, but couldn’t be prosecuted due to double-jeopardy laws

Donham alongside her husband, Roy Bryant, during his murder trial in Mississippi in 1955

Donham alongside her husband, Roy Bryant, during his murder trial in Mississippi in 1955

After an arrest warrant for Donham (then Bryant) from 1955 was discovered in June , interest in the case was revived

After an arrest warrant for Donham (then Bryant) from 1955 was discovered in June , interest in the case was revived

The murder of Emmett Till received renewed attention in June when an unissued warrant for Donham’s arrest was unearthed in the basement of the Leflore County Courthouse in Mississippi. 

Donham, who has been identified as ‘Mrs. Roy Bryant’ in the warrant, was married to one of two white men tried and acquitted in Till’s 1955 death.

Relatives of the Tills wanted authorities to finally arrest Donham nearly 70 years later, but in August a Leflore County grand jury declined to indict her. 

The jury determined there was insufficient evidence to charge Donham with manslaughter and kidnapping.

Till, 14, from Chicago, was visiting family when he walked into a store in Money, Mississippi, where Donham, then 21, worked. 

An undated portrait of Emmett Louis Till, a black 14 year old Chicago boy, whose weighted down body was found in the Tallahatchie River near the Delta community of Money, Mississippi, August 31, 1955

Till's mother famously chose to have an open-casket funeral for her 14-year-old so mourners in Chicago could see what had happened

Till’s mother famously chose to have an open-casket funeral for her 14-year-old so mourners in Chicago could see what had happened

She accused Till of making inappropriate advances after whistling her, an act considered at the time to be against racist social codes in the South.

Evidence indicates that a woman, possibly Donham, then identified Till to his killers, her husband, Roy Bryant, and another man, JW Milam. 

An all-white jury acquitted the men of Till’s murder, but the pair later admitted to the murder in a magazine interview.

Donham also recanted her story to author Timothy B. Tyson, telling him how the original accusation was a lie in the 2017 book, The Blood of Emmett Till.

Last year, a federal investigation re-examined the murder ended after the Justice Department failed to find evidence that Donham had lied.

Till’s murder sent shockwaves across the country and helped spur the civil rights movement. 

Her mother insisted on an open casket funeral to show the brutality of his murder.

Emmett Till, left, and his cousin Wheeler Parker, back right, are pictured on their bicycles. The picture, which also captures family friend Joe B. Williams, was taken around 1949 to 1950

Emmett Till, left, and his cousin Wheeler Parker, back right, are pictured on their bicycles. The picture, which also captures family friend Joe B. Williams, was taken around 1949 to 1950

How Emmett Till’s brutal torture and killing in 1955 became a turning point in the US Civil Rights movement 

Emmett Till’s fateful visit to family in Mississippi in 1955 became one of the horrifying lynchings that galvanized the civil rights movement.

The trip quickly turned to tragedy after the 14-year-old was abducted, tortured and killed after witnesses said he whistled and grabbed white woman Carolyn Bryant Donham as she worked in a local store.

Days after the accusations, on August 28, 1995, Till was at home with his cousin when two white men, Carolyn’s husband Roy Bryant and his half-brother J.W. Milam, stormed in and dragged Till out of the home.

Emmett Till's (pictured) fateful visit to family in Mississippi in 1955 became one of the horrifying lynchings that galvanized the civil rights movement

Emmett Till’s (pictured) fateful visit to family in Mississippi in 1955 became one of the horrifying lynchings that galvanized the civil rights movement

The 14-year-old(pictured) was abducted, tortured and killed after witnesses said he whistled and grabbed white woman Carolyn Bryant Donham as she worked in a local store

The 14-year-old(pictured) was abducted, tortured and killed after witnesses said he whistled and grabbed white woman Carolyn Bryant Donham as she worked in a local store

The two men brutally beat the teenager before dragging him to the bank of the Tallahatchie River, where they shot him in the head and dropped his body into the water. 

Days after the brutal murder, Till’s body was pulled from the river, where it had been tossed after being weighted down with a cotton gin fan.

The lynching became known nationwide after Till’s devastated mother Mamie Bradley insisted on an open casket funeral in Chicago to show his tortured body and shed light on violence inflicted on black people in the south.

Thousands of people flocked to the Roberts Temple Church of God to see evidence of the hate crime, with Till’s mother making the brave move as she felt the world needed to know what happened.

As the murder gained more attention, two publications published graphic images of Till’s corpse, leading to the teenager’s death being nationally condemned.

Following weeks of outrage, Bryant and Milam were acquitted by an all-white Mississippi jury. Months later, they confessed in a paid magazine interview.

Till’s lynching became a pivotal point in the civil rights movement and people kept campaigning for justice for Till decades later.

In 2017, a book quoted Donham, now in her 80s, as saying she lied when she claimed that Till grabbed her, whistled and made sexual advances while she was working in a store.

The killing galvanized the civil rights movement after Till's mother (pictured with her son) insisted on an open casket to show his tortured body

The killing galvanized the civil rights movement after Till’s mother (pictured with her son) insisted on an open casket to show his tortured body

The shocking claims prompted the Justice Department to reopen the investigation. The FBI were unable to prove her alleged lies, but issued a rebuke to the validity of Donham’s testimony after a probe was closed in December.

After the allegations of Donham’s lies, she told the FBI that she had never recanted her accusations while relatives also denied the accusations.

At the time, officials said historian Timothy B. Tyson, the author of 2017’s ‘The Blood of Emmett Till,’ was unable to produce any recordings or transcripts in which Donham allegedly admitted to lying about her encounter with the teen.

Till’s family have still never seen any convictions for the crime, while Bryant and Milam, who are now both dead, were not brought to trial again. 

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