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In the predominately White town of Wynne, Ark., an incident last week involving a 14-year-old African-American boy, who was reportedly hazed by fellow White junior varsity football players byplacing a noose around his neck, has reached a fever pitch. With racial tensions high in the northeastern Arkansas town, the school board was dogged by questions from both the parents of the involved and outside media—resulting in the expulsion of two students from Wynne High School for the rest of the semester.
Local ABC news affiliate KATV-7 reported on the school board meeting last night (October 3) where over 150 people gathered outside. Much of the hearing was closed to the public, and when the board members emerged, Superintendent Carl Easley did not offer many details regarding the case although a decision was made. Just this morning, it was reported by several outlets that two students will be suspended for the rest of the semester—a much lesser sentence than Easley originally sought.
The victim's aunt was displeased with the outcome. “It would have satisfied the family if the two young men were expelled for the year. That would have been the right thing,” said Tresha Light. Although students and parents alike say the kids were most likely horsing around with a towel, it appears that there are several sides to the story after police interviewed over 30 students regarding the incident. The victim's aunt relayed the story on behalf of her nephew that the students built a dummy that was hung in effigy prior to placing a noose around his neck.
With Wynne on the media map, Blacks and Whites are clearly divided on the issue with some thinking the school district may have overreacted. Still, there's a cautious tension in the air as evidenced by a local CBS affiliate KTHV-11 (see below).
The victim's mother, fearing racial retaliation, has asked news outlets to not identify her son in the case.