OXFORD, Miss. (PRESS RELEASE) – United States Attorney Felicia C. Adams and Special Agent in Charge Donald Alway, FBI, announce that Austin Reed Edenfield, of Kennesaw, Georgia, was sentenced today to twelve months probation, and ordered to complete fifty hours of uncompensated community service for tying a rope and Confederate flag around the neck of the James Meredith Statue at the University of Mississippi.
Edenfield pled guilty to one count of using a threat of force to intimidate African-American students and employees because of their race or color on March 24, 2016.
He was charged by Information shortly before pleading guilty.
Another defendant, Graeme Phillip Harris, pled guilty to the same charge in June 2015 and was sentenced to six months in prison.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office, in conjunction with the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, will aggressively prosecute hate crimes and other civil rights violations which occur in our district.
“I seriously appreciate the assistance of the FBI and the University of Mississippi in the investigation and prosecution of this case”, said U.S. Attorney Adams.
“The FBI remains dedicated to protecting the cherished freedoms of all Americans and, as in this case, we will vigorously investigate allegations of crimes motivated by hate,” said Special Agent in Charge Alway.
Edenfield and Harris acknowledged that they used the cover of darkness to tie the rope and an outdated version of the Georgia state flag – which prominently depicts the Confederate battle flag – around the neck of the statue in the early morning hours of Feb. 16, 2014.
The statue honors Meredith’s role as the university’s first African-American student after its contentious 1962 integration.
At the time of the incident, both men were students at the university.
Edenfield admitted as part of his plea that the appearance of the rope and flag display would be threatening and intimidating to African-American students.
This case was investigated by the FBI’s Jackson Division’s Oxford Resident Agency and the University of Mississippi Police Department.
The case is being prosecuted by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Mississippi.