Hazing victim's aunt: JSU band members had to pay to march

By Julie Straw - bio | email

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Jackson Police Assistant Chief Lee Vance said the department can't take any action against the Sonic Boom band members because the alleged hazing victims are not cooperating and will not file charges in the case.

Allegations that freshmen band members were paddled by their peers has students, the former band director and a relative of one of the victims speaking out.

"Things happen," JSU Senior Shantae Ransom said. "I hate that it did happen, but this is probably a lesson learned."

"I never knew of it, heard of it, never thought it happened," JSU Freshman Jeremy Davis said.

Jackson State students have mixed reactions over the alleged paddling of 22 freshmen members of the Sonic Boom Of The South.

"Jackson State is a really good school and we really don't need anybody else to put us out as being a bad school," JSU Senior Jasmine Burks said.

Forty-five students have been suspended from the band, pending a judicial hearing at JSU next week.  That's when school officials said a decision will be made on whether the band will perform the rest of the football season.

Although the victims have not come forward with information, a relative of one is speaking out.

"His dream was to march in the Boom," Vivian Mays said of her nephew. "Now that dream has turned into a nightmare."

Mays is a Jackson State University alumni.  She said her nephew and other freshmen were not only hazed, but also forced to give money to upper classmen.

"Whoever out bid, that's who marched. If you didn't have money to pay the section leaders, you didn't march," Mays said.

According to Mays, her nephew's dream and his scholarship are now both gone.

"They took all the scholarships from the freshman, and I don't think that's correct. If you're going to, set the whole band down because everybody knows what's going on," Mays said.

The university has not commented on scholarships.

Dr. Lewis Liddell, Sr. retired in June 2009 after directing the Sonic Boom for 17 years.  In a phone interview he said, "Band members come to Jackson State predisposed to hazing because they experienced it in middle school and high school.  The university is handling it correctly, but they need to take it a step further.  Those who participated in criminal acts need to be treated as criminals."

The Sonic Boom will not perform at Sunday's Battle of the Bands as they have the last eight years.  JSU spokesperson Anthony Dean said they never had a contract to perform and it has nothing to do with the alleged hazing incident.  The event's producer, Just In Time Music, would not comment.

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