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Emmett Till casket moved from Burr Oak

July 14, 2009 at 1:37 PM   |   Comments

CHICAGO, July 14 (UPI) -- The casket of slain civil rights icon Emmett Till has been moved from Burr Oak Cemetery to a police building in Chicago for safe keeping, authorities said.

The glass-topped viewing casket was found rusting in a shed full of trash, housing possums, earlier this month. The cemetery has become a crime scene, with police alleging at least 300 bodies were dug up and discarded so grave sites could be resold.

Till's body was exhumed in 2005 and reburied in Burr Oak in a different casket. The viewing casket was supposed to become part of a memorial to Till. An undetermined amount of money was raised for the memorial by Carolyn Towns, the Burr Oak manager now charged with re-selling grave sites, The Chicago Southtown Star reported Tuesday.

At the request of Till's family, the viewing casket has been moved to a police building on Chicago's South Side, sheriff's spokesman Steve Patterson said.

"It's a safe place to store it until we hear from the family -- ultimately it's up to them what they want to do with it," Patterson said.

The 14-year-old Till was kidnapped from a cousin's home in Mississippi in 1955 and killed for allegedly whistling at a white woman. The two white men charged with his death were acquitted, sparking protests that became a catalyst for the civil rights movement.

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