FBI Joins Ole Miss Investigation, Hunts Racist Culprits Who Put Noose Around Neck Of Statue

Over at the University of Mississippi, the FBI has joined an university-wide search for two men who defaced a monument to the first black student to attend Ole Miss. The sculpture of James Meredith, who attended the school in 1962, was found draped in a Confederate flag with a noose around its neck Sunday morning. The school's alumni association has offered up a $25,000 reward to help find the culprits.

An eyewitness reported he saw two men shouting racial slurs at the statue while vandalizing it. At the moment, investigators are looking at footage of campus in an attempt to identify the men.

At a press conference at the state Capitol on Tuesday, Mississippi NAACP president Derrick Johnson referred to the incident as a "racial hate crime."

"As long as we tolerate hate, we will continue to revisit history and the past of this state," Johnson said. "And at some point, we must move forward."

The university's chancellor, Dan Jones, has released a statement condemning the actions of the vandals as "contrary to the beliefs and values of the university community."

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.

On Tuesday afternoon, roughly 150 Ole Miss students formed a peaceful protest around the statue, lighting candles and holding posters with hand-written slogans. A single rose was left at the statue's feet.