The president of the Mississippi chapter of the NAACP is calling for a federal hate crime investigation into an incident in which he claims a noose was placed around the neck of a Black high school football player and “yanked backward,” The Washington Post reports.
On Monday, Derrick Johnson said that as many as four White students were involved in the incident, but the Wiggins, Mississippi school’s coach said only one player was involved. The NAACP president told reporters, “No child should be walking down the hall or in a locker room and be accosted with a noose around their neck. This is 2016, not 1916. This is America. This is a place where children should go to school and feel safe in their environment.”
According to Head Coach John Feaster, the incident, which took place on October 13th, occurred as players were preparing for practice and only one assailant was involved. He told ESPN, “The individual that was responsible hasn’t been with our team since the incident. I just want it understood, it could have been the biggest superstar and he would have been gone. I don’t care who it is, if you do something like that, you can’t be part of our team.”
Stone County Superintendent Inita Owen released a statement on Monday: “I will not comment on this matter at this time, nor will I address a matter of student discipline in the press. I can assure everyone that the Stone County School District takes all matters involving students very seriously and will do everything within its power to make sure that all policies and procedures were adhered to and that all of its students have a safe place to receive an education.”
Sources say that White students have recently been seen displaying the Mississippi flag from their vehicles and the noose and flag incident could be related. The anonymous victim has since returned back to practice, however none of the culprits have been suspended.