Special to the NNPA from the Washington Informer
Federal authorities announced Friday that a man has been charged with civil rights crimes for placing a noose around the neck of a statue of the University of Mississippi’s first black student.
Graeme Phillip Harris was indicted by a federal grand jury on one count of conspiracy to violate civil rights and one count of using a threat of force to intimidate African-American students because of their race or color.
According to the charging documents, Harris, a student at the university, conspired with others early on Feb. 16 to hang a rope and an outdated Georgia state flag, which prominently depicts the Confederate flag, around the neck of the James Meredith statue on the school’s Oxford campus.
Authorities said the act was intended to threaten and intimidate black students and employees at the university.
Meredith was the university’s first African-American student after its contentious 1962 integration.
“This shameful and ignorant act is an insult to all Americans and a violation of our most strongly-held values,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “No one should ever be made to feel threatened or intimidated because of what they look like or who they are. By taking appropriate action to hold wrongdoers accountable, the Department of Justice is sending a clear message that flagrant infringements of our historic civil rights will not go unnoticed or unpunished.”