Man to plead guilty in incident with noose on Univ. Of Mississippi statue

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 12, 2015 10:29 PM

(Reuters) - A former University of Mississippi student will plead guilty next week to a federal civil rights charge accusing him of draping a noose and a Confederate flag around the neck of a statue of the school's first black student, according to court documents.

Graeme Phillip Harris is scheduled to appear on Thursday, for a change of plea to the charge that he knowingly and willfully intimidated and interfered with African-American students and staff because of their race and color, according to the court filing earlier this week.

The maximum penalty for the charge is 1 year imprisonment, a $100,000 fine, or both. It is not clear whether the other charge, conspiracy to violate civil rights, will be dropped.

In the incident on Feb. 16, 2014, Harris and others allegedly hung the noose and the flag on the statue of James Meredith, who braved white segregationist mobs in 1962 to integrate the school in Oxford, Mississippi.

Harris's attorney was not immediately available for comment on Friday. Harris withdrew from the university in the spring of 2014.

In response to the incident, the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity expelled from its ranks the three freshmen believed to be involved in the incident and later closed its chapter there.

(Reporting by Fiona Ortiz)