Ben Creekmore, who serves as District Attorney for Lafayette County, told WMC-5 on Friday his review of the law found that no law had been broken.
Creekmore told Action News 5 late Friday morning that investigators and prosecutors have looked into several misdemeanors as possible charges. He said because the statue was not physically damaged, and the suspects did not appear to be trespassing, his office would likely not be in a position to bring criminal charges against the suspects.Everything I've read suggests that these three men are not guilty of a federal hate crime, which requires their act to target a specific individual or group and not a large generalized group. But I will leave it to others to make this determination.
He did add that he felt the act was despicable and that federal investigators could opt to bring charges if they saw fit.
But I do think they might be guilty of disturbing the peace. They reportedly yelled racial slurs at a contractor working for the university. These would seem to me to be "fighting words," and as such a breach of the peace, and a violation of Mississippi Code 97-35-15:
§ 97-35-15. Disturbance of the public peace or the peace of others; exception
(1) Any person who disturbs the public peace, or the peace of others, by violent, or loud, or insulting, or profane, or indecent, or offensive, or boisterous conduct or language, or by intimidation, or seeking to intimidate any other person or persons, or by conduct either calculated to provoke a breach of the peace, or by conduct which may lead to a breach of the peace, or by any other act, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine of not more than Five Hundred Dollars ($ 500.00) or by imprisonment in the county jail not more than six (6) months, or both.I respect Creekmore's decision in this matter. As a district attorney he certainly doesn't want to be seen as doing nothing. And it's not ethical for him to bring charges if he knows the law isn't with him.
Perhaps this charge needs to be brought at the local level by the county prosecutor. And perhaps there's not enough to make it stick. But these men have certainly caused a very large disturbance of the peace.