Graeme Phillip Harris, a student at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, has been charged with federal civil rights crimes for engaging in threatening conduct directed at African-American students and employees, according to a news release Friday from the U.S. Department of Justice.
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 during a Feb. 16, 2014. incident.
He allegedly conspired with others to hang a rope and an outdated version of the Georgia state flag, which prominently depicts the Confederate battle flag, around the neck of the James Meredith statue on the campus of the University of Mississippi, “with the intent to threaten and intimidate African-American students and employees at the university,” the release states. Meredith was the first Black student to enroll in the Southern college that was all-White at the time.
“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 the statement. “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.”
Shortly after the incident, the Ole Miss chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon was closed after members were accused of tying a noose around the neck of a statue, NewsOne reported earlier. It’s unclear if Harris was part of the group or a member of the fraternity.
The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Jackson, Mississippi Division’s Oxford Resident Agency and the University of Mississippi Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Mississippi.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Justice | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty