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Ole Miss Civil Rights Statue Vandalized

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

The FBI is now part of the investigation at the University of Mississippi where someone draped a Confederate-style old Georgia flag and tied a noose around the statue of James Meredith. That statue commemorates the enrollment of the first black student at Ole Miss in 1962, which led to riots. Sandra Knispel, of Mississippi Public Broadcasting, reports.

SANDRA KNISPEL, BYLINE: Unfurling an Ole Miss banner, a couple of dozen students stand with Meredith's statue, two of them taking it by the hand. Senior Camilla Velasquez is the organizer for the Latin American Student Organization.

CAMILLA VELASQUEZ: Today, we are supporting Meredith because we are absolutely in shock about what happened on Sunday. So we, as an organization, as a minority organization, reject what happened on Sunday.

KNISPEL: The incident returns the university to an unflattering national spotlight. A stone's throw away, an administration building still bears gunshot holes from the riot in 1962. The university's head of multicultural affairs, Donald Cole - himself among an early group of black students to attend Ole Miss - is upset.

DONALD COLE: Somehow it seemed as if we were struck in the heart, as if a death blow, and it hurts.

KNISPEL: The university has announced a $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest, and according to police, tips have been pouring in. For NPR News, I'm Sandra Knispel in Oxford, Mississippi. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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