White students at a south Mississippi high school put a noose around the neck of a Black student and “yanked backward,” the state’s local NAACP said Monday.
Ayana Kinnel, spokeswoman for the civil rights group, said the incident took place the afternoon of Oct. 13 at the Stone County High School field house in Wiggins. The group said in a statement that officials have mishandled the situation. The NAACP said no one has been charged with a crime, and the student’s parents have not told of any punishment for the other students involved.
“They failed to protect this student throughout this ordeal,” the NAACP said in a statement. “Allowing students to commit blatant hate crimes without severe consequences, sends a message to students that their safety and well-being are not valuable enough to be protected.”
The state NAACP president, Derrick Johnson, is calling on the FBI to conduct a federal hate crimes investigation.
Mississippi has long struggled with a history of racial division. It is the only state that still incorporates the Confederate battle emblem on its state flag.
In 2014, two out-of-state students at the University of Mississippi placed a noose on the campus’ statue of James Meredith, the Black student who integrated Ole Miss in 1962. Both pleaded guilty to using a threat of force to intimidate African-American students and employees. Neither attends the school anymore.
Names and ages of the students involved in the Stone County incident weren’t immediately released. The Stone County NAACP president, Robert James, said the Black student is a football player.
According to a statement from the Black student’s family, he returned to practice after the incident, Kinnel said.
The Stone County Sheriff’s Department provides officers at local schools and typically is the first to respond to incidents. Sheriff Mike Farmer didn’t immediately respond to a phone message and an email. Wiggins Police Chief Matt Barnett said his agency wasn’t notified.
Stone County High School Principal Adam Stone referred comment to Superintendent Inita Owen. She and school board attorney Sean Courtney didn’t immediately respond to phone calls and emails seeking comment.
State Department of Education spokeswoman Patrice Guilfoyle said the state usually lets local districts handle student discipline.