Calvin Sellers, the university chief of police, said attorneys for
the three 19-year-olds from Georgia wanted campus police to produce
an arrest warrant before they would allow them to question the
students about the act of vandalism, which occurred early on Sunday.
Sellers said the three students failed to appear at a pre-arranged
meeting on Thursday.
"The University Police Department had gathered enough evidence by
late Wednesday to bring charges through the student judicial process
against two of the students, and both state and federal authorities
were working in close coordination to determine whether criminal
charges were applicable," the university said in a statement on
The FBI's field office in Jackson said in a statement on Friday that
along with university police, they have expanded the investigation
to determine whether federal law was broken.
Meanwhile, the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity indefinitely suspended
its chapter at the school after learning the three students
suspected of involvement were members, according to a statement
released by its national headquarters in Richmond, Virginia.
The fraternity said it also asked the chapter to cease all
operations as it conducts an investigation into the matter.
"It is embarrassing that these men had previously identified with
our fraternity," Sigma Phi Epsilon CEO Brian Warren said in the
statement after the Mississippi chapter expelled the three and
turned over their identities to authorities.
LEAD IN CASE
Earlier this week, the university's alumni association offered a
$25,000 reward for tips about the incident, and Sellers said school
officials indicated they planned to pursue federal hate crime
charges. Sellers also said the reward had generated numerous leads.
A construction worker on the campus in Oxford, Mississippi, reported
seeing two men wrapping the bronze statue of Meredith in an old
Georgia state flag bearing the Confederate logo. The vandals were
also heard shouting racial slurs, Sellers said.
[to top of second column]
Many students on the campus were incensed by the noose incident,
especially since it took place during February, which is Black
History Month, said Adam Ganucheau, a 21-year-old senior and editor
of the daily student newspaper at the school, popularly known as
Ganucheau said the incident sparked student-led counter protests and
earnest discussions about race in official meetings and on social
"People from the outside looking in often can think that all the
students on our campus are running around yelling racial slurs, but
that's just not the case," he said. "Unfortunately, it's just a very
small group of students who have some really messed up problems."
Ganucheau, who wrote about the incident and has been covering the
campus reaction, said it was important for the student newspaper to
continue the dialogue.
The campus was the scene of riots in 1962, when hundreds of
segregationists protested the admission of Meredith, the school's
first black student. Two men died and dozens of people were wounded
as federal officials escorted Meredith to campus.
In 2012, the campus made national headlines again when a group of
students yelled racial slurs at an impromptu protest after President
Barack Obama's re-election.
The university has taken steps to shed remnants of its
segregationist past in an effort to welcome all students. The school
ditched its sports mascot, Colonel Reb, which many claimed looked
like a white plantation owner, for the current mascot, a black bear.
(Writing by David Adams, additional reporting by Colleen Jenkins,
Brendan O'Brien; editing by David Gregorio and G Crosse)
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