The Department of Justice announced on Friday, a former University of Mississippi student was indicted on federal civil rights charges for allegedly hanging a noose and a Confederate flag around the statue of the university’s first black student, James Meredith. NBC affiliate WTVA is reporting Graeme Phillip Harris, an ex-student of the university was charged by a 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.
In the early hours on Feb. 16, 2014, Harris, along with a small group of white students hung a noose and an old version of the Georgia state flag which incorporated the Confederate flag around the statute of Meredith, the first black student who attended the university after it was desegregated in 1962. Harris, who is from Alpharetta, Ga, was a student of Ole Miss and member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity when the incident took place. Soon afterwards, the fraternity was suspended and was closed by the national headquarters, and expelled three members a week after the vile event occurred. Harris withdrew from the university quickly after the incident.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder rebuked the action Harris is accused of and stated:
This shameful and ignorant act is an insult to all Americans and a violation of our most strongly held values. 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.
If convicted Harris could face up to a maximum of 11 years in prison. Harris is currently free on bond but has travel restrictions placed upon him by the judge to northern Georgia and north Mississippi for court and middle Georgia for school.