The parents of a black high school junior allege that three white classmates pulled their son by a noose around his neck earlier this month, resulting in the Mississippi chapter of the NAACP calling for a federal investigation.
On Oct. 13, at Stone County High School in Wiggins, a black varsity football player was assaulted with a noose by classmates, all of whom were white, in a locker room. According to Associated Press, none of their names or photographs have been released, but all the students are all believed to be under seventeen years old.
On Monday, the president of the NAACP's Mississippi chapter, Derrick Johnson, told a news conference in Wiggins that the assault must be investigated as a federal racial hate crime.
The parents of the student, Hollis and Stacey Payton, attended the news conference, but did not make public statements. The Paytons were at first "discouraged" by local police from filing the report of their son’s abuse.
Speaking to the conference, Johnson said, “No child should be walking down the hall or in a locker room and be accosted with a noose around their neck. This is 2016, not 1916. This is America. This is a place where children should go to school and feel safe in their environment.”
Local police are being condemned for their lack of action regarding the matter in the predominantly white county, The Washington Post reported. This was not typical bullying, however, since a noose was involved.
While police told the victim’s parents to not come forward, the school’s football coach, John Feaster, appears to have taken immediate action as best he could by reporting the incident to district administrators. He also eliminated “the individual” who committed the crime from the team, suggesting a discrepancy between his account of the assault and the NAACP’s.
Feaster reportedly told ESPN, “I reported it to the administration and handled it as swiftly as I could.” He also added that he is under the impression there was “one individual, not a group” responsible for the vicious crime.
Feaster said, “The individual that was responsible hasn’t been with our team since the incident. I just want it understood, it could have been the biggest superstar and he would have been gone.” He continued, “I don’t care who it is — if you do something like that, you can’t be a part of our team.”
The heinous act perpetrated against the student is inexcusable, even considering that the perpetrators were minors. Hate crimes carried out by the nation’s young people are particularly disheartening, given that their violent racism is symbolic of what the future holds.
Banner photo: Twitter, @SI_wire