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Former UM Student Pleads Guilty to Threatening African-Americans at University of Mississippi

By Amelia Camurati
By Amelia Camurati

Former University of Mississippi student pleaded guilty today in the federal court to threatening African-Americans students and employees at the University of Mississippi when he helped place a noose around the neck of James Meredith’s statue last February.

In the press release from the U.S. Attorney’s office of North Mississippi, Graeme Phillip Harris, 20 of Alpharetta, Georgia, admitted to joining with others to use the cover of darkness to hang a rope and an outdated version of the Georgia state flag which has a Confederate emblem around the neck of the statue with the intent of intimidating African-American students and employees according to the documents filed in connection with the guilty plea.

Harris’ plea resolves all charges against him in this matter. The Justice Department’s civil rights division and the U.S. attorney’s office of the Northern district of Mississippi has prosecuted this case.

The prosecutors provided factual basis documents to prove the relevancy of the charge against Graeme Phillip Harris.

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In the release, Vanita Gupta, principal deputy assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s civil rights division said, “We will not tolerate threats of racial violence intended to intimidate students and university employees. No one should have to endure threats or intimidation at our nation’s universities because of their race or the color of their skin.”

In the release, U.S. attorney Felicia C. Adams of the Northern district of Mississippi said, “The reprehensible actions of the defendant evoke painful memories of a shameful period in our past when some American citizens were subjected to threats and intimidation by lynching solely because of the color of their skin. Attempts to categorize the defendant’s offensive conduct as a mere college prank only serves as a hollow denial of our collective historic civil rights. The U.S. Attorney’s office, in conjunction with the DOJ Civil Rights Division, will aggressively prosecute hate crimes and other civil rights violations which occur in our district. I sincerely appreciate the assistance of the FBI and the University of Mississippi in the investigation and prosecution of this case.”

The FBI division of Jackson, Mississippi, is working with its Oxford resident FBI agency and the University of Mississippi police department on the investigation of the desecration of James Meredith’s statue.

In the release, Donald Alway, the special agent in charge of the FBI division of Jackson, Mississippi, said, “What these individuals did was not a prank. It was an intentional effort to belittle and intimidate persons of a particular race, and was exactly the type of action the federal civil rights statutes were enacted to prevent. The FBI is committed to the protection of the civil rights of all citizens and will continue to investigate allegations of crime motivated by hate.”

Callie Daniels is the senior managing editor at HottyToddy.com. She can be reached at callie.daniels@hottytoddy.com.

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