By Scotty Reid
The Justice Department announced on Friday that former Ole Miss student Graeme Phillip Harris of Alpharetta, Georgia, has been indicted on one count of conspiracy to violate civil rights and one count of using a threat of force to intimidate Black students. Harris placed a noose around the he neck of the statute of James Meredith on the Ole Miss campus when he was a student there in 2014. James Meredith was the first Black Ole Miss student and his admission to the school led to riots in 1962 that were started by white supremacists in Mississippi.
The Ole Miss campus is no stranger to racist outburst from its students, in 2012 after the re-election of President Obama, hundreds of Ole Miss students created a huge disturbance as they took to the streets in anger and were heard yelling racial slurs directed at President Obama and Black people in general.
However, the conspiracy charge more than likely will not stick if indeed Mr. Harris was a lone wolf and other suspects are not indicted for their part in the alleged conspiracy.
The charges against Graeme Phillip Harris also brings up questions surrounding the DOJ’s handling of Ferguson, Missouri and the lack of criminal charges being sought against any Ferguson official who conspired to violate the civil rights of thousands of Ferguson’s Black residents.
From the DOJ Ferguson Report Summary,
“Investigation has revealed a pattern or practice of UNLAWFUL conduct within the Ferguson Police Department that violates the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, and federal statutory law.”
Based on the findings of the DOJ’s report on the Ferguson “conspiracy to violate civil rights” there should have been a number of indictments brought against several Ferguson officials like former Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson, Mayor James Knowles III, former Judge Ronald J. Brockmeyer and John Shaw, the former city manager of Ferguson.
U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan is the top-ranking federal law enforcement official in the Eastern District of Missouri which includes St. Louis County and Ferguson. Callahan should explain why he has not convened a federal grand jury in seeking indictments of individuals involved in the race based crimes committed against residents of Ferguson according to his department’s investigation.
Graeme Phillip Harris should stand trial for his crimes against the students and employees of Ole Miss but the lack of indictments in Ferguson shows the DOJ is to say the least, not consistent in protecting the rights of citizens in the USA.