The Wynne School Board recently expelled two students who are alleged participants in a “noose” dragging incident, but the allegations of a 14-year-old African-American junior high football player are still sending shockwaves throughout the East Arkansas community. The child asserts that he was attacked by some of his white teammates and dragged across the floor in the locker room on September 24th at Wynne High School with a “noose” around his neck, and the contradictory interpretations of the incident are causing a racially charged atmosphere to lurk slightly off in the distance like an oncoming storm filled with the accusations and the denials of a very serious situation that some even described as a hate crime.
WREG News Channel 3 in Memphis interviewed a relative of Mickey, the 14-year-old victim. She said that “he was terrified [when] some boy came up behind him and picked him up, and that’s when another boy put a rope around his neck.” Mickey was then allegedly dragged about with a rope “noose” around his neck and (according to Mickey’s family) his neck was bruised.
On the other side, Wynne Superintendent Carl Easley admitted that something “inappropriate” happened in the boys’ locker room, but he has claimed that there was no “noose” involved, even though he has not said what the “inappropriate” incident was. The Wynne Police Department interviewed students but has filed no charges; they have reportedly decided to leave it up to the Wynne School Board to handle the incident.
On October 3rd, the Wynne School Board met in front of a packed house to decide the fate of two of the students involved in this incident. After more than three hours, the Wynne School Board voted four-to-one to expel both students for one semester, leaving the family members and supporters of the victim outraged and threatening to retain a lawyer.
I attended this school board meeting at Wynne High School–which just happens to be my alma mater–and many of the concerned people wanted to know the details: what, exactly, happened? People walked into the meeting with questions, and they left the meeting with their questions still unanswered. That lack of clarity lies squarely on the administration, which provided no insight into the situation, and was either unable or unwilling to be more forthcoming.
There are numerous people around the community who have tried to downplay this incident as “horseplay” or “hazing” but the possibility of a child being dragged about by a “noose” around his neck is very serious. When you have a superintendent who is saying that there wasn’t a “noose” but the victim’s family is saying that there was, it becomes an even more serious situation.
Here’s the news story:
Whether it’s a superintendent, a teacher, a police officer, a white parent, an African-American parent, or a stay-at-home parent, none of these individuals would just take their ball and go home because an administrator or an administration did not believe their child, especially considering the seriousness of the incident and the danger surrounding this kind of circumstance. This is why definitive answers are needed and must be provided: this involves someone’s child!
As a parent or a family member, one would want and demand to know the truth, and one would want and demand that the punishment be swift and appropriate, because the longer that this conflict persists, the more it resembles the cover-ups at Penn State University, where the protection of the economic and social viability of the institution appeared to become more important to that institution than its obligation and duty to be accountable for the safety of — and to provide justice and protection to — all of its students.
If the family of this 14-year-old victim decides to retain a lawyer or call Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson or CNN, then more power to them. As long as they are convinced that the truth is being withheld, they have every right to fight until they are satisfied that it is no longer being withheld, because the age-old adage of “my word against his word” is unacceptable when it comes to the racist history of the “noose” with regard to African-Americans. If there is a discrepancy between two different versions of the incident, this needs to be straightened out immediately.