(CNN) — Allegations that white students threw a noose around a black student’s neck and “pulled the noose tight” have rocked a southern Mississippi high school.
Members of the Mississippi chapter of the NAACP claim that some members of the Stone High School football team in Wiggins put the noose on the black student earlier this month at the high school football fieldhouse. The alleged victim and perpetrators are football players.
The NAACP wants a federal investigation of the incident, saying the students in the alleged attack haven’t been expelled, school officials didn’t report it to law enforcement nor have they told the victim’s parents what kind of disciplinary action would be taken.
“They failed to protect this student throughout this ordeal,” the organization said in a statement. “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.”
School officials pushed back against the claims, with Stone County School District Superintendent Inita Owen saying in a statement that the 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.”
Stone High School Principal Adam Stone told CNN affiliate WLOX that he “absolutely” couldn’t comment on the allegations.
Calls to Owen and Stone were not immediately returned.
NAACP state president Derrick Johnson called the racial climate in Wiggins tense.
“There is a level of fear and intimidation in this county,” he told CNN affiliate WXXV. “It’s a very small African-American community, a very close-knit community. As a result of that, people are very cautious around calling attention to racial incidents.”
Some resident agreed with the NAACP that federal authorities needed to get involved.
“The FBI needs to come down here and investigate this school system because this stuff has been swept under the rug for years,” Ora Jackson, who is black, told WXXV.
Others say the school district punishes black students more harshly than white students. Kimberly Elzy said her son, who is black, was kicked out of class for having the word “blood” written on his shoes, but the football players accused in the noose incident have not been disciplined.
“I mean, I can look past black and white you know,” she said. “Just everybody deserves a fair opportunity.”