The University of Mississippi said Friday that students could face criminal charges for placing a noose on a statue honoring the college’s first black student, and a fraternity announced that it had expelled three men because of the incident.
Sigma Phi Epsilon, a social fraternity on campus, said in a statement that the men were a part of the group’s chapter at the university. The chapter, which said it told investigators about the role its members may have played in the vandalism, was suspended.
The university said its inquiry led law enforcement officials to seek interviews with three students, all of them white 19-year-old freshmen from Georgia. But the students, whom the university did not identify because of an educational privacy law, refused through their lawyers to meet with the authorities unless investigators secured arrest warrants.
The university said that two of the students initially agreed to meet with law enforcement officials on Thursday morning, but that neither appeared.
“As university police were attempting to locate the two students late Thursday, they became aware of an Oxford attorney who was representing one of the students, which then led to information that three students had retained legal counsel,” the university said in the statement. “Two of the students were those being sought by the university police, but all three names had been prominent in the investigation.”
The university’s police department has been leading the investigation, which began Sunday after a contractor heard men shouting racial slurs near the monument to James Meredith. Along with a noose, the authorities found a version of the Georgia state flag that featured the Confederate battle emblem.
The investigation, Chancellor Daniel W. Jones acknowledged this week, began unsteadily. Dr. Jones said that he did not learn of the incident until Monday.
SOURCE: ALAN BLINDER
The New York Times