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Episcopal alum identified among students posing with guns at Emmett Till memorial sign

2 years 2 months 4 weeks ago Saturday, July 27 2019 Jul 27, 2019 July 27, 2019 3:40 PM July 27, 2019 in News
Source: ABC News

OXFORD - One of the three college students that were suspended from their fraternity after posing with guns in front of a memorial for Emmett Till appears to be a recent graduate of Baton Rouge's Episcopal High School.

According to the Advocate, A Benjamin Joseph LeClere is listed among the Class of 2017 at Episcopal High School in Baton Rouge. The school stated two years ago that LeClere would attend Ole Miss. Episcopal's school website features LeClere in a list of "Senior Tributes 7.5.17." The school-published post shows a photo of LeClere in an Ole Miss jacket and he bears a marked resemblance to one of the Ole Miss students pictured holding a gun.

Chris Kiesel, chair of Episcopal’s board of directors was asked by The Advocate if the student in the middle of the Ole Miss controversy did in fact graduate from the Baton Rouge private high school. 

Kiesel issued the following statement:

“Ben LeClere graduated from Episcopal School of Baton Rouge in the Class of 2017. The photograph in the Pro Publica article is disturbing to the leadership of Episcopal and does not reflect in any way the values for which the school stands.”

The students have not been suspended from Ole Miss since the photo was not determined to be a violation of school policy.

"While the image is offensive, it did not present a violation of university code of conduct. It occurred off campus and was not part of a university-affiliated event," University of Mississippi spokesperson Rod Guajardo said in a statement.

The three students are pictured posing with guns at a sign dedicated to Till, a 14-year-old African American boy who was kidnapped, beaten and tortured before being shot in 1955, all allegedly in connection to an encounter with a white woman.

One of the three male students seen in the photos allegedly posted the photo to his Instagram account in March.

The school referred the photo to the University Police Department, who reported the photo to the FBI.

The FBI "declined to investigate further because the photo "did not pose a specific threat."

The three students are members of the Kappa Alpha Order fraternity, and the group's spokesperson Jesse Lyons confirmed to ABC News that the students were suspended.

"The making of the photo was unrelated to any event or activity of our chapter," Lyons said in a statement to ABC.

"The photo is inappropriate, insensitive, and unacceptable. It does not represent our chapter. We have and will continue to be in communication with our national organization and the University," Lyons said.

The sign dedicated to Till has been vandalized before. The sign, which marks where Till's body was found, is the third iteration in that location after the first two were destroyed in earlier vandalism incidents, the Associated Press reports.

This latest sign was removed last week before news of the picture broke, Patrick Weems, the Emmett Till Memorial Commission's executive director told the AP.

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