The Justice Department on Friday brought federal civil rights charges against a University of Mississippi student who allegedly hung a noose on a statue of James Meredith, Ole Miss’ first black student.
Charging documents identified the suspect in the Feb. 14, 2014 incident as Graeme Phillip Harris, a student at Ole Miss, according to a DOJ press release.
Harris was charged with one count of conspiracy to violate civil rights and one count of using threat of force to intimidate black students because of their race. He was accused of hanging a rope and a flag sporting the Confederate battle emblem around the neck of the Meredith statue.
Last winter, police had said they were close to bringing criminal charges against three freshmen students suspected of taking part in the racially charged vandalism. The university’s Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity chapter also expelled three of its members suspected to have been involved in the incident, leading the fraternity’s national organization to suspend that local chapter.
The names of the students in question were not released by either the police or the fraternity.
“This shameful and ignorant act is an insult to all Americans and a violation of our most strongly-held values,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement announcing the charges against Harris. “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.”
Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at email@example.com.