A federal judge handed down a sentence of six months in prison followed by 12 months of supervision for Graeme Phillip Harris, the former University of Mississippi student who helped place a noose around an on-campus statue of civil rights activist James Meredith, according to a New York Daily News article. Harris pleaded guilty to the charge of using a threat of force to intimidate African-Americans at the school, a misdemeanor.
Harris’ lawyer, David G. Hill, claimed that his client was encouraged by the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity’s racially charged atmosphere, according to a separate report in the New York Times.
In court documents, Hill wrote, “[Mr. Harris] was told by the fraternity leaders that no blacks were allowed in the house socially, that the only blacks allowed here are ‘back there’ [in the kitchen],” the Times reported.
In a rebuttal, Beaux Carriere, a fraternity spokesman, said that Mr. Harris’ “allegations paint a picture that was not substantiated by our investigation,” according to the Times, which also stated that the fraternity closed its Ole Miss chapter in April 2014.
Judge Michael P. Mills of Federal District Court in Oxford, Mississippi, ordered Mr. Harris to surrender on Jan. 4, nearly 23 months after the incident, the Times reported.
After Harris’ sentencing, Brandi Hephner LaBanc, the university’s vice chancellor for student affairs, said in the Times, “The working relationship between the university and federal authorities very clearly affirms that offensive and illegal acts of this nature will not be tolerated on our campus.”