Graeme Phillip Harris, a former Ole Miss student, pleaded guilty hanging a noose on the statue of James Meredith. The University of Mississippi student had a misdemeanor charge levied against him after putting the noose on the campus memorial to the civil rights leader.
During a short court appearance on Thursday, Graeme Phillip Harris entered a guilty plea to the charge of “threatening force to intimidate African-American students and employees” at Ole Miss. A noose and old Georgia state flag, which also carried the Confederate battle emblem, were placed upon the James Meredith statue last February.
James Meredith was the first black student at the University of Mississippi after a court order was issued, forcing the college to permit him to enroll for classes in 1962. Armed federal agents escorted Meredith to class for his own safety. The agents were attacked, and an all-night riot, which claimed two lives, ensured. Federal troops were called in to stop the rioting and restore calm on the Ole Miss campus.
Graeme Harris, a resident of Alpharetta, Georgia, faced up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. Georgia prosecutors stated that the former University of Mississippi student will not be prosecuted for a second charge listed on the indictment, which was “conspiracy to violate civil rights.” If convicted of such a charge, Harris would have faced up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
Harris’ attorney, David Hill, said that his client wanted to take responsibility for his actions. Hill had reportedly stated previously that his Graeme Harris was present in 2014 but did not place the noose on the James Meredith statue.
The Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity suspended its Ole Miss chapter after three members were accused of putting the noose and flag on the Meredith statue. The University of Mississippi deferred their judgment in the case and turned the incident over to federal prosecutors. The local district attorney declined to arrest Harris because no state laws were broken. No other students have yet been named or charged in conjunction with the noose incident.
“We’re thankful that this case has been brought to a resolution and responsibility has been accepted for this deplorable act. It is our hope that by bringing closure to this investigation we can begin the healing process for all those affected by the behavior that took place the morning of Feb. 16, 2014,” said Ole Miss Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Dr. Brandi Hephner LaBanc. “This further affirms that conduct of this nature will not be tolerated on our campus.”
James Meredith, 81, criticized the lack of state prosecution in the noose on the statue incident. Meredith reportedly felt “black Mississippians” should not have to look to the federal government for justice.
What do you think about former student Graeme Phillip Harris placing a noose on the Ole Miss statue of James Meredith?
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