A statue honoring James Meredith stands at the heart of the University of Mississippi’s campus, not far from the the Grove and a short walk from the football stadium.
Meredith enrolled in classes on Oct. 1, 1962, integrating the school known as Ole Miss, but was only able to do so after deadly riots erupted in Oxford, Miss. The statue of Meredith, unveiled in October 2006, depicts him entering the campus.
This week, university police found a rope noose tied around the neck of the statue as well as a Georgia flag from before 2003 (the year that state adopted a flag without a Confederate battle sign).
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has joined campus police in the investigation into this incident, a bureau spokeswoman told the New York Times.
Authorities are looking for two men who were seen early Sunday morning near the statue and heard shouting racial slurs, the university said in a statement. A contractor in the area said he saw two “younger-looking boys” yelling racial slurs.
“These individuals chose our university’s most visible symbol of unity and educational accessibility to express their disagreement with our values,” Dan Jones, the university’s chancellor, said in a statement.
Jones added that the ideas of the suspects “have no place here.”
The school’s alumni association is offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the two people suspected.
Dozens of students gathered at the statue on Tuesday in response to this, which is the latest recent issue involving racial or otherwise intolerant behavior on the campus. When a large crowd that gathered to protest President Obama’s reelection in 2012, some shouted racial slurs. Last year, a group of Ole Miss football players were among audience members who reportedly yelled homophobic slurs during a production of “The Laramie Project.”