Two University of Mississippi students who posed in a controversial photo in front of a memorial to Emmett Till were clearly identified along with their fraternity in a bias report filed in March, but university officials still declined to pursue disciplinary action at the time. Interim Chancellor Larry Sparks has said Ole Miss mishandled the investigation and that an internal review has been launched into the “breakdown in communications” surrounding the incident, ProPublica and the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting reports. “Our ongoing review has updated our understanding of some key facts in this process,” Sparks wrote in a response to questions from the publications.
In the March bias report, two of the men in the photo are identified by name and labelled as members of the Kappa Alpha Order fraternity. The photo, which shows three men in front of a bullet-ridden memorial for Till and two of the men holding guns, was posted to Instagram on March 1 and liked by at least 16 members of the fraternity. Kappa Alpha suspended the men from the fraternity on July 23, and the fraternity’s chapter president Taylor Anderson said the fraternity would have “absolutely … taken the same immediate action” had he seen the photo prior to July 23.