The University of Mississippi is investigating a racial crime on campus. The University Police Department (UPD) said someone on Nov. 5 allegedly vandalized the truck of freshman Jamal Woods, a black liberal arts major and ROTC member at Ole Miss.
The vandalism of the truck occurred after Woods moved from the Stockard residence hall to the Deaton residence hall because of a racial incident that occurred in Stockard.
“There is no room for that type of behavior on this campus or in this community,” UPD Chief Calvin Sellers said. “It only takes a few people to give us all a black eye. I’m not happy about it at all.”
UPD contacted the FBI after hearing about the incident.
“Initially, we were looking at possibly a hate crime or a civil rights violation,” Sellers said. “This (case) doesn’t qualify for either one of those.”
Several news outlets have reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has taken over the case, but Sellers denied those reports.
“This case has not been turned over to the FBI,” Sellers said. “For the FBI to investigate something, it has to be a federal violation.”
The FBI released the following statement late last night about the investigation:
“The University Police Department made us aware of the allegations of Jamal Woods in order that we might determine whether a violation of federal law has occurred. At the present time, there is no evidence that a federal violation has been committed. We will continue to monitor this ongoing investigation and will evaluate any new evidence or developments which could indicate violation of federal statute under the FBI’s jurisdiction.”
In Mississippi, a “hate crime” is any crime committed “because of the actual or perceived race, color, ancestry, ethnicity, religion, national origin or gender of the victim,” according to Mississippi Code 99-19-301.
“There was no threat (in this case),” Sellers said. “(Additionally), in order for it to be a civil rights violation, you have to be deprived of basic rights. That didn’t happen here.”
As of Wednesday evening, no new information had surfaced in the case. Sellers said the person responsible will face felony vandalism charges.
Outside news outlets have also reported that Woods’ mother, Mary Woods of Olive Branch, has blamed Ole Miss for not informing her and keeping her updated on her son’s situation.
“I am so angry,” Mary Woods told WMC-TV in Memphis.
“You know, like I said, this just affects everything.”
Mary Woods said her son will finish the semester at Ole Miss and withdraw. Ole Miss Media and Public Relations Director Danny Blanton said Woods is still enrolled at Ole Miss.
The Daily Mississippian’s attempts to reach both Jamal Woods and Mary Woods were unsuccessful.
According to a time line of events that Ole Miss released to The DM, Woods filed a complaint with UPD on Aug. 24 about a racial slur written on his door and another door on his floor at Stockard.
On Aug. 26, after the second time the slurs appeared on Woods’ door at Stockard, Woods moved to Deaton Hall.
After his move, Woods was contacted by multiple university officials, including UPD, to ensure that he was safe.
On Nov. 5, a UPD officer noticed a truck in Deaton’s parking lot with slashed tires and racial slurs carved into the exterior paint. The words “KKK,” “Go Home” and “n—-r” were carved into the truck.
According to the university time line, the hood appeared to reflect an attempt to write racial slurs. UPD determined the owner of the truck was Woods, and he was contacted immediately. Woods noted that the door had been picked and various items inside the truck were missing, including stereo speakers and a computer.