Suspects decline to talk about Meredith statue vandalism

The University of Mississippi Police Department believes it has identified the individuals who recently vandalized a statue of James Meredith on the UM campus, but the suspects are not being cooperative.

Three 19-year-old white male freshmen from Georgia were declining through their attorneys late yesterday to be questioned by university police regarding the vandalism Sunday morning of the Meredith statue, according to the university chief of police Calvin Sellers.

Sellers said the University Police Department (UPD) had gathered enough evidence by late Wednesday to bring charges through the student judicial process against two of the students, and both state and federal authorities were working in close coordination to determine whether criminal charges were applicable.

Working through an advisor to the students, university police had arranged a meeting for yesterday morning, Sellers said, but the students did not appear as promised. As university police were attempting to locate the two students late yesterday, they became aware of an Oxford attorney who was representing one of the students, which then led to information that three students had retained legal counsel.

Two of the students were those being sought by university police, but all three names had been prominent in the investigation, according to Sellers. He said the attorneys declined to make their clients available for questioning without an arrest warrant.

Sellers and University of Mississippi chief of staff and general counsel Lee Tyner said they believe sufficient evidence exists to bring criminal charges against the suspects and pledged to provide whatever support is needed for state and federal authorities to issue warrants and pursue legal measures to the full extent of the law. The student judicial process would call on the students to respond but can proceed without their cooperation, Tyner said. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) does not permit the university to release the names of the students unless criminal charges are filed.

Sellers said the $25,000 reward offered by the university’s alumni association has been instrumental in bringing quick results in the investigation, generating numerous leads. Those with additional knowledge that may be helpful to the investigation and prosecution are encouraged to contact UPD at (662) 915-7234.

UM alumni put up reward to find Meredith statue vandals

OXFORD — At the request of Chancellor Dan Jones, the university’s Alumni Association has offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of two individuals involved in an incident on the University of Mississippi campus.

The University Police Department (UPD) is looking for two men who were seen early Sunday morning near the James Meredith statue, which commemorates the 1962 integration of the university. One of the men was reported to have been wearing camouflage pants. The statue had been draped with a noose and an old Georgia state flag, and the men were heard shouting racial slurs.

Jones said, “These individuals chose our university’s most visible symbol of unity and educational accessibility to express their disagreement with our values. Their ideas have no place here, and our response will be an even greater commitment to promoting the values that are engraved on the statue – Courage, Knowledge, Opportunity and Perseverance.”

UPD has initiated a rigorous investigation and alerted Oxford Police. Anyone with information concerning the investigation is urged to contact UPD at (662) 915-7234.

‘Art of Commemoration’ is a must-read for both historians and art lovers

Art of Commemoration Cover

Art of Commemoration Cover

One of the treasures of the Vicksburg National Military Park is the stunning art of the park’s monuments, markers and statues.

And, there is a great book, offered free of charge, that gives the history and significance of the park’s art and architecture.

“Art of Commemoration” was written by Parker Hills, a 30-plus year military man who retired as a brigadier general with the Mississippi Army National Guard.

Hills, who currently owns and operates the leadership-/team-building company Battle Focus in Clinton, where he uses Civil War battlefields as a “classroom,” wrote in the introduction: “The thing signified at Vicksburg — the spirit of the park — is the valor of the soldiers and sailors who struggled as participants in the Vicksburg campaign. The memorials and markers, through their information, art and architecture, signify, or honor, these combatants. The bronze, stone, and iron works were created to help preserver the spirit of duty, honor and country, and hopefully this spirit will be experienced by the viewer.”

The 93-page, glossy, full-color “Art of Commemoration” begins with the park’s iconic entrance, the Vicksburg Memorial Arch, giving a full account of both its architecture and engineering, and continues through the park, offering history and details of numerous memorials and statues.

The book is so in depth it provides a needed glossary for those of us who are not architects and engineers, as well as space to take notes. Ever heard of a peristyle, entasis or cella? No worries — they’re covered and explained in “Art of Commemoration.”

If all of that wasn’t good enough, it’s also free, thanks to a grant that covered the book’s costs.

To obtain a copy, visit the Vicksburg Convention & Visitors Bureau, which is located just across the street from the main entrance into Vicksburg National Military Park. Ask for “Art of Commemoration.” You’ll be asked to sign a log, but I was in and out in less than five minutes.

We need to relish these objects of art and history, because while they have been standing for decades and seem invincible, they are not. A disturbing note on page one states: “While in the park you may notice that many of the monuments have suffered damage, either deliberately or by accident. If you have children, please do not allow them to climb on to the statues, as they are priceless works of art.”

So, pick up “Art of Commemoration,” tour the park and revel in the history and beauty that is ours.