WIGGINS, MS (WLOX) - The story in Stone County is attracting national attention, from ESPN to the Washington Post. And that is a concern of residents, many of whom told us the incident may have been "blown out of proportion."
Monday, the head of the Mississippi NAACP called for federal authorities to investigate an alleged hate crime at Stone High School. The group claims school administrators failed to follow their own policies after white students threw a noose around the neck of a black student and "pulled the noose tight."
"I'm really disappointed that that is the headline that I heard, as soon as I got here, back to my hometown," said Jennifer Barclay, who was back in Wiggins for a visit.
She's a 1995 graduate of Stone High who moved to Minnesota several years ago, but still has close ties to the community. She said she heard the incident was actually a prank, among friends. But still, there are serious concerns.
"Whether you're joking or not, some things are completely inappropriate. Unfortunately, if what happened, happened the way it did, then I'm sad and disappointed to learn that," she said.
Paul Dedeaux is a 2007 graduate of Stone High, who learned of the incident on Facebook.
"If it actually did happen, it's very sad that people would just assume all white people are racist because of the confederate battle flag," he said.
"We want to be a county that's known for love, not hate. Unity, not division," said Mandy Reeves.
The incident at the high school, along with the subsequent national news coverage, prompted Reeves to appeal to a higher power. She's inviting the community to a prayer rally at Blaylock Park, Wednesday afternoon.
"We just want to come together as one. We have enough in this life that's negative, and the things Satan feeds us, we just want to combat that with God. He is our hope," said Reeves.
The prayer gathering will be at the new park pavilion beginning at 5:30 Wednesday afternoon.