Still think we live in a “post-racial society?” Then how do you explain white high school students hanging a noose around a black classmate’s neck and the school doing nothing about it?
According to ABC News, this happened on Oct. 13 at Stone County High School in Wiggins, Mississippi. Yet school officials still haven’t or taken any action whatsoever. No wonder Mississippi’s NAACP is outraged and demanding a federal investigation.
‘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.’
In a statement, the NAACP explained that the white students didn’t just hang a noose around their black classmate’s neck, they “yanked backwards.” They then excoriated the adults at the school for doing nothing — nothing! — about what happened:
‘They failed to protect this student throughout this ordeal. 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.’
We still know little about the students involved, other than that the victim and his assailants are on the football team, and he returned to the field for practice after his racist schoolmates had their fun.
Apparently, no one at the school even thought that white students hanging a noose around a black student’s neck was serious enough to contact the local Sheriff’s Department over. What the hell? Do they realize that we are now living in the 16th year of the 21st century?
‘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.’
WMBF News adds that, according the the Stone County High School’s student handbook, the principal can expel students for acts of violence. So apparently, they’ve just chosen not to. During a press conference on Monday afternoon, Mississippi NAACP President Derrick Johnson declared that the boy’s mother doesn’t want to press charges against her son’s (alleged!) assailants because one of their fathers is a “former law enforcement officer” who may have friends in high places.
In fact, one of the Sheriff’s deputies warned that she “could be faced with intimidation.” As in…Nice life you got there, wouldn’t want anything to happen to it. Furthermore, as many as four students were involved and they’ve been seen around town with Confederate flags waving from their vehicles. Derrick Johnson angrily fumed:
‘No child should be walking down the hall or in a locker room and be accosted with a noose around their neck. No child should be in fear of going to school. This is 2016, not 1916.’
Yes, but apparently not in Stone County, Miss. Jerry Sanders, a neighbor who graduated from Stone County High in 1982 echoes Johnson’s dismay, and mentions that nothing like that ever happened while he was going there.
Hanging a noose around a black student’s neck is a hate crime.
There’s no way to explain the noose incident as run-of-the-mill bullying or hazing instead of a hate crime: The symbolism is glaringly obvious. After all, Mississippi is home to the infamous lynching site, “Hanging Bridge” in Shubuta…Which is just an hour-and-43-minutes’ drive north east of Wiggins.
Bridge outside Shubuta, MS, where 3 black Mississippians were lynched by hanging in 1918 and then 2 more in 1942. pic.twitter.com/mfCtPk2AhK
— Eric Etheridge (@eetheridge) July 29, 2015
There, a white lynch mob hung two black men and two pregnant black women in 1918. 50 years later, a neighbor recalled:
‘People says they went down there to look at the bodies, and they still see those babies wiggling around in the bellies after those mothers was dead.’
Then, in 1942 14-year-old Ernest Green and 16-year-old Charlie Lang were accused of rape and an angry mob lynched them from that same bridge. Nowadays, lynch mobs are fewer and farther between…After all, who needs a noose when we’ve got cops who can summarily execute black people legally? But in February, four men in Rankin County, Miss. were ordered to pay $840,000 to the estate of James Craig Anderson after brutally murdering him while shouting “white power!” back in 2011.
— Southern Poverty Law Center (@splcenter) February 29, 2016
Also, in March a former student from the University of Mississippi pleaded guilty after he and a friend hung a noose and a Confederate battle flag around a statue of James Meredith. He was the first black student to attend Ole Miss. in 1962 after the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the school to integrate, and President John F. Kennedy sent troops to enforce the ruling. A riot broke out when Meredith tried to enroll and two people died. Needless to say, the man had no desire to linger and swiftly graduated in 1963.
And even after South Carolina — where the Civil War began — took the Confederate battle flag down from their capital, Mississippi still keeps it as part of their state flag.
— WPSD Local 6 (@WPSDLocal6) October 14, 2016
WATCH: NAACP demands federal investigation after white high school students place noose around black schoolmate’s neck.
UPDATE: The AP adds that Derrick Johnson and the NAACP demands the teenagers be charged as adults, even though the students in question are all under age 17. In a statement, Stone County Superintendent Inita Owen declared that although she “wouldn’t address a matter of student discipline in the press” she “can assure everyone” that the district takes these matters “very seriously.” Stone County High School has 800 students, around one-fourth of whom are black.
Featured image: Peter Dazeley via Getty Images.