At a conference Monday, Derrick Johnson, president of the Mississippi chapter of the NAACP, addressed the press concerning a recent incident involving an African-American member of the Wiggins football team and a noose. On October 13, a player was allegedly attacked in the boys’ locker room at Stone County High School in Wiggins on October 13, when another player threw a noose around his neck and tightened it.
"We're calling on federal investigators to view this as a racial hate crime. No child should be in fear of going to school. No child should be walking down the hall or in the locker room and be accosted with a noose around their neck. This is 2016, not 1916," Johnson said.
Johnson and supporters are calling for the expulsion of the students involved in the attack along with legal prosecution. "Allowing students to commit blatant hate crimes without severe consequences sends a message to students that their safety and well-being are not valuable enough to be protected."
The Stone County sheriff allegedly discouraged the victim’s mother from filing a report when she initially called in the incident. He has made no response to requests for comment. It was John Feaster, head coach of the Wiggins football team, who reported the incident to the school administration.
Though the principal of Stone County High has also declined to comment, and no official details have yet been released as to a planned punishment for the students, the player who placed the noose has been dismissed from the football team. Coach Feaster 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.”
The names of the students involved have not yet been released, and the victim of the attack and his family wished to remain unnamed.