Ole Miss student charged with civil rights crimes against Africa - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Ole Miss student charged with civil rights crimes against African-American students, teachers

(Source: WMC Action News 5) (Source: WMC Action News 5)

An Ole Miss student is charged with federal civil rights crimes for "engaging in threatening conduct" directed at African-American students and employees at the university.

Graeme Phillip 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.

According to court documents, Harris conspired with others to hang a rope and outdated version of the Georgia state flag around the neck of the James Meredith statue on the Ole Miss campus.

The James Meredith statue is intended to honor Meredith's role as University of Mississippi's first African-American student after integration.

“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 a written 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.”

Harris is from Georgia. In February 2014, he and two other students were accused of tying the noose around the neck of the statue.

Students on campus still remember the incident that garnered negative national attention at University of Mississippi.

"We [are] all the same people and, you know, we should put that racism in the past," AR James said.

It's unclear whether anyone else is facing charges, but school leaders say Harris' charges are proof that racism will not be tolerated.

"To do something like that on this campus is, I mean, we're bound to all be shocked and very insulted that something like that would happen," said Ashton Dawes, who hopes others will think before they act. "I hate to say he deserved it, because I don't want his future ruined like that, but I mean, he kind of brought it on himself."

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