Today at 11 a.m., former Ole Miss student Austin Reed Edenfield pleaded guilty to a federal civil rights crime for tying a rope and Confederate flag around the neck of the James Meredith statue at the University of Mississippi.
In the U.S. District Court for Northern District of Mississippi, Edenfield, a native of Kennesaw, Georgia, pleaded guilty to one count of using a threat of force to intimidate African-American students and employees because of their race. Judge Michael Mills will sentence Edenfield on July 21. This type of charge carries a maximum sentence of a year in prison and a $100,000 fine with not more than a year of supervised release.
Edenfield waived indictment to plead guilty to the federal civil rights crime per the plea agreement. According to the documents of the plea agreement: “The United States agrees not to charge the defendant with any other offenses arising from or related to the above charge.”
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta said, “The Department of Justice is committed to ensuring that our universities and our workplaces are free from threats of racial violence. We will hold accountable those who attempt to turn places of learning into places of intimidation and fear.”
The prosecutor provided the factual basis documents to explain the charges against Edenfield. As quoted in the documents:
Edenfield knew that James Meredith was the first African-American student to enroll at the University of Mississippi. African-American students and staff would reasonably perceive the flag and rope as a form of intimidation and as a potential threat of violence. Knowing this, Edenfield agreed to help Harris place the flag and rope on the Meredith statue; he accompanied Harris and McCarty to the statue, and he tied the rope around the neck of the statue when Harris was unable to get it tied. After affixing the flag and rope to the statue, Edenfield, Harris and McCarty left the area.
Below are the factual basis documents:
This case was investigated by the FBI’s Jackson Division’s Oxford Resident Agency and the University of Mississippi Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Mississippi.
Callie Daniels Bryant is the senior managing editor at HottyToddy.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.