Last week, the Forrest Hill High School band performed their halftime show at Brookhaven. However, this performance depicted band members dressed as doctors and nurses aiming fake assault weapons and other members who were dressed as SWAT officers.
Outrage poured over social media the second the performance was over. Individuals were not only enraged at high school students portraying such a violent scene, but at the lack of sensitivity to the recent tragedy in Brookhaven.
The weekend before, Brookhaven Police Department lost two officers in the line of duty. Officers James White and Zack Moak were both killed while responding to a call on Saturday Sept. 29.
On Sunday morning, State Trooper Josh Smith was also killed.
Since the performance, not only has social media been in a frenzy over the band’s choice depiction, but state officials are speaking out on the matter.
I will be making a complaint to the Mississippi High School Activities Association as well as to Forest Hill and JPS administration. How could any administrator think that halftime show was appropriate?
Jackson Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Errick L. Greene released a statement on Saturday:
“On behalf of the Jackson Public School (JPS) District, I want to offer my deep and sincere apologies for the performance by the Forest Hill High School band during Friday’s football half-time show in Brookhaven. Based loosely on the movie, “John Q,” the band’s performance depicted a hostage scene that included toy guns.
JPS has a great deal of respect and appreciation for our law enforcement partners. The band’s performance does not depict the values and people in our community, and was incredibly insensitive to the students, families, law enforcement officials and the entire Brookhaven community. For this we sincerely apologize to all, and we pledge to do better in the future.
We have taken some initial actions in response to this matter, and you have my commitment that we will investigate it fully and take additional appropriate action with respect to procedures and personnel.”
Since the incident, Mayor of Jackson Chokwe Lumumba has reached out to the Mayor of Brookhaven and told him that the Forest Hill band director has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation. He also apologized for the performance.
The Mississippi Department of Public Safety released a statement citing their disappointment.
“The Mississippi Department of Public Safety is extremely disturbed by Forest Hill’s leadership approving and allowing their band to display a reenactment of violence against law enforcement at a high school football game in Brookhaven, MS. This is highly inappropriate considering the recent loss of two Brookhaven Police officers to senseless violence,” said Commissioner Marshall Fisher. “This only exacerbates the war against law enforcement in our nation. Mimicking acts of violence against law enforcement, or members of the public should never be condoned at a high school football game or any function whatsoever. The Governor’s School Safety Task Force is currently working to reduce school violence which is at an all-time high. I have to question whoever made this decision in regards to what message they are sending to our children.”
Brookhaven Chief of Police Kenneth Collins says the fault shouldn’t lie with the children, but with the adults who approved the performance.
“The adults have got to answer for that decision that they made, it’s not the kids fault,” said Chief Collins.”
President Chief Walter Armstrong of Natchez, spoke to Fox & Friends with a similar narrative.
“We are baffled at why someone would think it’s okay to allow children to be armed with AR-15’s, although they were fake weapons, to hold law enforcement at bay. We are very outraged and that was a very distasteful perfomance that played out on the football field,” said Armstrong.
Some, who are outraged over the incident have called for an investigation into the school and not only a public apology for the incident, but the firing of all administrators who were involved in the decision to allow this performance to take place.
However, not all folks in the political realm were outraged. Othor Cain, a Jackson-based radio host and spokesperson for US Senate Candidate Mike Espy, posted the following on his Facebook page
There was absolutely NOTHING racist nor ignorant…not an attempt to be culturally insensitive or morally unconscious…
I’m thinking out loud on this Sunday morning…I’m so glad that God doesn’t have selective grace/memory like some of…