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Outrage: Marching Band Pretended to Hold ‘Police’ Hostage at Halftime Performance

Mississippi community offers apologies for highly insensitive act, especially after recent deaths of two officers

Image Credit: Facebook

The halftime actions of one Forest Hill, Mississippi, high school band on Saturday have social media ablaze — and many local leaders offering apologies.

During the Saturday football game’s halftime performance, the Forest Hill High School marching band reportedly depicted students dressed as doctors and nurses holding students dressed as SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) team members at gunpoint. (A scene from the “performance” is shown above.)

The performance was especially upsetting as two local police officers from the nearby community of Brookhaven were killed in the line of duty last week, local station WLBT reported.

The two Brookhaven police officers, 31-year-old Corporal Zach Moak and 35-year-old patrolman James White, were killed on September 29 while responding to a local “shots fired” call.

The halftime show couldn’t have been more disrespectful: Forest Hill was playing against Brookhaven, on Brookhaven’s home field.

The timing led many to speak out about the band’s actions, and Brookhaven Mayor Joe Cox released a statement Sunday on Facebook.

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“The halftime performance conducted by the Forest Hill band at our Brookhaven High School home football game last night was inappropriate, irresponsible, and insensitive to say the least,” he began.

Due to the inexcusable halftime performance by the Forest Hill Band at the Brookhaven High School home football game on…

Posted by Mayor Joe Cox on Sunday, October 7, 2018

Cox’s Facebook post garnered over 1,000 comments and over 3,400 shares.

Jackson Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Errick L. Greene also released a statement on Saturday. (Forest Hill High School is part of Jackson Public Schools.)

“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 halftime show in Brookhaven,” he said, as Yahoo News reported.

“Based loosely on the movie ‘John Q,’ the band’s performance depicted a hostage scene that included toy guns.”

Greene continued, “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.”

He added, “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.”

Cox said he’s since spoken with the mayor of Jackson, Choke Lumumba, who informed him the Forest Hill band director has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.

The Brookhaven mayor also said that Lumumba apologized to him personally for the halftime show, noted WLBT.

Lumumba released a statement about the performance as well. “I offer my sincerest regrets to the Brookhaven community for the insensitivity that portrayed during the Friday evening halftime show. There is an active investigation into the circumstances that led to this performance.”

He added, “While I do not believe that there was a malice intent on behalf of the students that participated in this halftime show, I understand that we are ultimately not defined by the things that we set out to do, but rather how we respond to the things that actually do take place. It is the responsibility of adults to offer guidance to youth. Our students should have been instructed that this was neither the time or place for that performance.”

Related: America’s Cop Shortage: Fewer Good Men and Women

The Mississippi Department of Public Safety shared its disapproval, said WLBT.

“The Mississippi Department of Public Safety is extremely disturbed by Forest Hill’s leadership approving and allowing their band to display a re-enactment 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.

Fisher added there was no excuse for such a performance.

“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,” he said. “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.”

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant took to Twitter to call the performance “unacceptable,” and said, “Someone should be held accountable.”

See more in the video below.

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