Ole Miss vandals unrepentant about painting over state flag
- University of Mississippi police arrested a student last week after she was found to be involved in the vandalism of a student’s campaign signs that featured the Mississippi state flag.
- The student was one of four caught in security camera footage painting over Dylan Wood's student government campaign sign with the acronym "BLM."
- Two of the perpetrators were identified and charged after refusing to accept Wood's offer to withhold charges if they agreed to a public forum and apology.
University of Mississippi police arrested a student last week after she was found to be involved in the vandalism of a student’s campaign signs that featured the Mississippi state flag.
On March 3, a campaign sign for the Associated Student Body belonging to Dylan Wood was found vandalized. The sign featured an image of the Mississippi state flag, which has been removed from some universities over its inclusion of the Confederate battle emblem.
A group of four students, including Taia McAfee and Dominique Scott, were caught on a security camera near the signs, with McAfee painting over the Mississippi flag on the sign with the acronym “BLM,” an abbreviation for “Black Lives Matter.”
McAfee turned herself in last Monday after being notified of a warrant out for the students responsible, and was released from Lafayette County Detention Center on bond, according to The Daily Mississippian.
“I don’t regret painting over the flag because it’s something that was taken off campus because it is hateful and harmful to people of my identity,” McAfee said. “I felt like as a student activist, as a student who speaks up for other students, it was within my responsibility to cover it up. I do want to say I regret not coming forward earlier, before things blew up.”
Wood said he would drop the charges against McAfee and Scott if they agreed to terms laid out in a non-prosecution agreement, including meeting with him publicly to discuss the flag and apologizing for their actions.
Ideally, Wood explained, there would be a large-scale event about the incident with multiple student groups participating.
“My vision for that was to have [an event at] the Overby Center, and we discussed that. That’s not going to happen, unfortunately,” Wood said. “I wanted it to be all good and end the year on a ‘Look. See? We can all agree that we’re all Rebels at the end of the day.’”
Scott, however, said she wouldn’t agree to to the stipulations because she saw them as a “political vendetta” against her, pointing out that none of the conditions involved disclosing the identities of the other perpetrators.
“The stipulations that he gave in order for him to drop the charges on me included me paying for him to drop the charges, me agreeing to a public apology to him, and the third is that he be allowed to create a sort of program to allow people to talk about political issues,” Scott declared.
Accusing Wood of being “on a political vendetta” that is “a lot less about justice for his sign and a lot more about fighting me,” Scott declared that “the point to which Wood has escalated this situation is ridiculous.”
Scott further argued that she shouldn’t be held accountable for the crime because she was only a bystander to the incident.
“I just happened to be with the person who did it. I know how that may sound, but there’s only one version of the truth that I can give,” Scott said. “The truth is I did not know that they were going to do it.”
Wood says he was not made aware that McAfee was the sole vandal until she turned herself in, at which point he offered her the same non-prosecution agreement as Scott.
McAfee claimed that she agreed to all of the conditions except for one, asking to speak with Wood in private because she believes that apologizing and speaking publicly would put her life at risk, but that he insisted on full compliance.
“I’m afraid of everything because [people who threatened me online] were literally saying, ‘Maybe we should take care of them ourselves,’” McAfee said. “We agreed to his conditions as long as our lives would be protected in the process. And he denied it.”
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @amber_athey