A former University of Mississippi student took a plea deal from prosecutors, pleading guilty Thursday to a federal civil rights charge in the racially charged vandalism of a statue of the school’s first black student, Reuters reports.
Graeme Phillip Harris, who was 19 at the time of the vandalism, could get up to a year in prison in addition to a $100,00 fine for purposely intimidating black students and staff at the school based on race. Harris is white.
He had initially pleaded not guilty, but as part of his deal with prosecutors, he admitted to the crime in exchange for prosecutors dropping a felony charge of conspiracy to violate civil rights.
"He wants to admit his involvement in what was a considerably ill-conceived, ill-advised, thoughtless and insensitive drunken act," Harris' attorney, David Hill, said, according to the wire.
Harris is expected to face sentencing this summer.
Last February, Harris and two accomplices hung a noose and the Confederate flag on the statue of James Meredith, who became the school's first black student in 1962. Prosecutors claimed that the stunt was Harris' idea, with one of the other accomplices saying that he used racial slurs and insisted, "It's James Meredith. People will go crazy."
According to Reuters, the case is still being investigated, and so far no other charges have been filed.
Read more at Reuters.