A Georgia man has been indicted on federal civil rights charges connected to a noose being put on a statue of the student who integrated the University of Mississippi, the Justice Department said Friday.
The noose and a former Georgia flag that prominently featured the Confederate battle emblem were placed on the James Meredith statue on the Ole Miss campus in Oxford in February 2014. In 1962, Meredith had to be escorted by armed federal agents as he became the first black student admitted to the university under court order.
The Justice Department said in a news release Friday that Graeme Phillip Harris of Alpharetta, Georgia, had been indicted 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.
"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 in announcing the indictment.
"No one should ever be made to feel threatened or intimidated because of what they look like or who they are," Holder said. "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."
Harris, who is white, was an Ole Miss student when the noose was placed on the statue.
It wasn't immediately clear whether Harris had an attorney to contact for comment.
A university spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.
The Associated Press