Statue of James Meredith at the University of Mississippi (131329)

One might expect the statue honoring the first Black student at Ole Miss to be treated well.But no.

Last week, the U.S. Justice Department indicted a former University of Mississippi student on federal charges for putting a noose on the statue of James Meredith at the Ole Miss campus in Oxford.

Graeme Philip Harris, of Alpharetta, Ga., was indicted on one count of conspiracy to violate civil rights and one count of using a threat of force to intimidate African-American students on campus because of their race or skin color.

According to reports, the noose was placed on the statue of Meredith one night in February 2014. Harris and two other freshmen who were allegedly involved in the incident were kicked out of the fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon. The frat closed its Ole Miss chapter after the backlash.

Monday, in a statement, an Oxford-based lawyer who represents Harris said that the law has the wrong man and his client has been wrongly accused.

“In the early morning hours of Feb. 16, 2014, three Georgia teenagers, after a night of binge drinking in a university fraternity house, engaged in alcohol-fueled conduct that was foolish, insensitive and offensive,” read Hill’s statement. “Only one of those teenagers, Graeme Harris, was selected for prosecution and intensive investigation (only he had his cellphone seized, computer seized, vehicle FBI searched, dorm room FBI searched and even his family’s Georgia home FBI searched). The other two have apparently received federal forgiveness for any involvement, or at least after 13 months have not been intensively investigated nor indicted, even though the government has known who they are since about February 18, 2014.”

Hill concluded, “Graeme Harris did not tie a rope around the neck of the James Meredith statue, and the student who admitted to that action was not indicted.”