The FBI on Tuesday was helping investigate who tied a noose around the neck of a University of Mississippi statue of James Meredith, who, in 1962, became the first black student to enroll in the then all-white southern college.
University police found the rope noose and a pre-2003 Georgia state flag with the Confederate "stars and bars" on its face Sunday morning, said campus police Chief Calvin Sellers. Two men were seen near the statute early Sunday and investigators were looking at surveillance footage.
"It's a racial hate crime," Mississippi NAACP president Derrick Johnson said Tuesday after a news conference at the state Capitol. "At what level do they get prosecuted? I don't know. But as long as we tolerate hate, we will continue to revisit history and the past of this state, and at some point we must move forward."
In a statement, Chancellor Dan Jones condemned the action as contrary to the beliefs and values of the university community.