Ole Miss student indicted on civil rights charges for James Meredith statue incident

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OXFORD, Miss. — An Ole Miss student was charged Friday with federal civil rights crimes for “engaging in threatening conduct directed at African American students and employees at the University of Mississippi.”

A federal grand jury indicted Graeme Phillip Harris on one count of conspiracy to violate civil rights and one count of using a threat of force to intimidate African-American students because of their race or color.

Harris is accused of conspiring with two others to drape a noose and an outdated Georgia flag, which prominently depicts the Confederate flag, on the James Meredith statue on the university’s campus in the early hours of February 16, 2014.

The charging documents contend Harris did so “with the intent to threaten and intimidate African-American students and employees at the university.”

“This shameful and ignorant act is an insult to all Americans and a violation of our most strongly-held values,” Attorney General Eric Holder said.  “No one should ever be made to feel threatened or intimidated because of what they look like or who they are.  By taking appropriate action to hold wrongdoers accountable, the Department of Justice is sending a clear message that flagrant infringements of our historic civil rights will not go unnoticed or unpunished.”

From the university’s landmark tour:

In the fall of 1962, amidst violence and turmoil, James Meredith became the first African-American to enroll at the University. 

Exactly 44 years after Meredith attended his first class, the Civil Rights Monument was dedicated on October 1, 2006. In tribute to those who sought to open the doors of higher education to all citizens in the South, the words “Courage,” “Opportunity,” “Knowledge,” and “Perseverance” are inscribed at the top of the limestone portal, which sits just west of the Lyceum.

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