Police at the University of Mississippi are investigating a racially inflammatory incident involving a statue depicting a civil rights icon.
According to The Daily Mississippian, the student-run newspaper at Ole Miss, a noose was found on Sunday morning around the neck of the school’s James Meredith statue. A pre-2003 Georgia state flag, which featured the “stars and bars” of the Confederacy, was also draped around the statue’s shoulders.
Meredith became the school’s first black student in 1962.
Authorities are investigating the incident and the Ole Miss Alumni Association has offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest, but University Police Chief Calvin Sellers told TPM they “don’t have much” in the way of leads.
A contractor who was performing maintenance on the campus library when the incident is believed to have taken place — between 6:30 and 7 a.m. on Sunday, according to Sellers — said he saw two white males in the area, but didn’t see them at the statue.
The contractor said that the two individuals were shouting racially charged rhetoric like “white power” and the N-word, and both were wearing camouflage attire. But the latter detail probably doesn’t help much.
“Well, in Mississippi it’s not unusual for guys to be dressed in camouflage,” Sellers told TPM in a phone interview.
Sellers said the surveillance footage that authorities have at the moment isn’t very revealing, although there was a camera situated at the main entrance to the campus. That footage hasn’t yet been reviewed but unless the suspects entered the campus in a vehicle, Sellers said they’re relying on a “hope and a prayer.”
The camera, Sellers said, could capture a license number, but likely couldn’t provide a definitive picture of the suspects.