School band pun­ished for ‘un­ac­cept­able’ cop skit

Boston Herald - - FUNERAL DIRECTORS -

JACK­SON, Miss. — A Mis­sis­sippi high school band is be­ing barred from a state com­pe­ti­tion and some per­for­mances af­ter a half­time skit de­pict­ing three po­lice of­fi­cers be­ing held at gun­point was per­formed in a com­mu­nity where two of­fi­cers were shot to death last month.

Jack­son school district Su­per­in­ten­dent Er­rick Greene told The As­so­ci­ated Press on Fri­day evening that the Mis­sis­sippi High School Ac­tiv­i­ties As­so­ci­a­tion no­ti­fied the district at mid­week of the sanc­tions against the march­ing band at one of Jack­son’s schools, For­est Hill High.

He said the as­so­ci­a­tion has pro­hib­ited the band from tak­ing part in the yearly state com­pe­ti­tion that be­gan yes­ter­day with re­gional eval­u­a­tions. The band also is pro­hib­ited from wear­ing its reg­u­lar uni­forms or march­ing at foot­ball games the rest of the sea­son, though Greene said mem­bers can play at games while sit­ting in the stands.

Greene said the district is con­sid­er­ing an ap­peal.

“We don’t be­lieve for a mo­ment that any fo­cus of wrong­do­ing or poor judg­ment should be placed on the stu­dents,” he said.

As­so­ci­a­tion spokesman Todd Kelly wrote in an email that Jack­son has five days to ac­cept the sanc­tions or ap­peal.

Outcry against For­est Hill was swift af­ter the Oct. 5 half­time per­for­mance at a foot­ball game at Brookhaven High School. That pro­gram ended with a skit that Greene has said was in­spired by the 2002 movie “John Q.” In the movie, a fa­ther por­trayed by Den­zel Wash­ing­ton takes hos­pi­tal staff, pa­tients and a po­lice of­fi­cer hostage as he tries to force doc­tors to per­form a life-sav­ing trans­plant on his son.

Brookhaven of­fi­cer James White and Cpl. Zach Moak were shot and killed Sept. 29 af­ter re­spond­ing to a call of shots fired. They were buried by a griev­ing com­mu­nity with pub­lic fu­ner­als. That was days be­fore the skit was per­formed.

Greene said the school district has com­pleted its in­ves­ti­ga­tion and has taken ac­tion against band di­rec­tor Demetri Jones. Greene didn’t spec­ify the ac­tion, cit­ing district pol­icy that per­son­nel ac­tions re­main con­fi­den­tial.

“We do not be­lieve there was any mal­ice in­tended against the Brookhaven com­mu­nity,” Greene said. “Un­for­tu­nately we do be­lieve there has been a se­ri­ous lapse in judg­ment.”

He said the district took what he con­sid­ered “ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tions.”

Jones didn’t im­me­di­ately re­spond late Fri­day to an email sent to him at his district email ac­count.

Gov. Phil Bryant de­scribed the per­for­mance as “un­ac­cept­able in a civ­i­lized so­ci­ety.”

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