The FBI has been called in to investigate a noose tying incident on the campus of the University of Mississippi. A noose was found around the neck of James Meredith’s statue. Meredith was the first black student to enroll in the college in 1962, when it was still an all white institution.
The noose was found Sunday morning as well as a Georgia state flag with a Confederate battle symbol.
“It’s a racial hate crime,” Mississippi NAACP president Derrick Johnson during a news conference. “At what level do they get prosecuted? I don’t know. But as long as we tolerate hate, we will continue to revisit history and the past of this state, and at some point we must move forward.”
The university released a statement from Chancellor Dan Jones:
“These individuals chose our university’s most visible symbol of unity and educational accessibility to express their disagreement with our values,” Jones said. “Their ideas have no place here, and our response will be an even greater commitment to promoting the values that are engraved on the statue — Courage, Knowledge, Opportunity, and Perseverance.”
University police asked for the FBI’s help, said Deborah R. Madden, a spokeswoman for the Mississippi FBI office in Jackson.
Black and white students rallied around the statue on solidarity on Tuesday. Many held signs including “Justice for African-Americans,” ”Respect the Students” and “This is Our University.” One poster said: “The actions done in the cowardly dark will never diminish the light of James Meredith’s legacy nor our creed.”
The University of Mississippi Alumni Association is offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.