The mother of the black Mississippi 15-year-old who had a noose pulled around his neck says that her son shook in fear when he described the harrowing ordeal to her, the Associated Press reports.
Stacey Payton, a 47-year-old college instructor, said that although the incident left no physical marks on her son, it may have left a life-changing emotional wound, the newswire notes.
Payton told AP that her son came to her office and told her about the Oct. 13 incident a few hours after it happened.
“His first words were, ‘Mom … please stay calm. Don’t panic. I don’t want you to call the school because it’s already been handled,’” Payton told AP Thursday. “When I was looking at him, he was shaking and the expression on his face—he was horrified. He was very fearful.”
Payton said she originally thought the teen would tell her that he got a bad grade or had gotten in trouble in class, but what what she heard next left her in chills.
“And he said, ‘Mom, they put a noose around my neck and they pulled it tight and it choked me.’ And I just instantly—it was like a chill went over my body.”
AP reports that the 15-year-old sophomore is now quieter than usual but is still attending his classes and playing football at Stone High School in Wiggins, Miss.
The Sheriff’s Department is still investigating, while the Mississippi NAACP is calling on federal authorities to investigate the case as a possible hate crime.
Payton described her son as a peaceful boy and said that he was friends with the white students who allegedly took part in the incident.
Although the family says that up to four students had a hand in the incident, the school district’s attorney, Sean Courtney, told AP that only one student has been accused of misconduct. That student has been suspended from the school “pending the conclusion of the disciplinary process.”
The student’s name was not released, and Payton does not want her son’s name released.
Courtney told AP that there was no report of racial slurs or any indication of what may have motivated the teens to put the noose around the 15-year-old’s neck. According to AP, some residents think it may be a prank among teens who may not know of Mississippi’s disturbing history with lynchings.
“It’s my hope that we’ll find out it was a bunch of teenagers doing what teenagers do, which is acting with stupidity,” soccer coach Scott Maddox, who is white, said.
“They didn’t grow up in the ’60s. They don’t understand the context of it,” Maddox added.
Others, however, see it as a reminder.
“The past is never dead. It’s not even past,” William Faulkner, a Mississippi native, told the newswire.
“There needs to be punishment severe enough to discourage others from doing this,” 67-year-old Elva Husband, who is black, added.