Jackson, MS – The high school band director who was fired after he instructed students to perform a halftime skit depicting the execution of police officers is getting his job back.
The visiting school performed the skit just one week after Brookhaven Police Patrolman James White and Corporal Zack Moak were murdered in the line of duty.
During their halftime performance, students dressed as nurses and doctors used fake rifles to depict the execution of students dressed as police officers.
Shortly after video footage of the halftime performance went viral, Jackson Public Schools Superintendent Errick L. Greene offered his “deep and sincere apologies for the performance,” the Jackson Free Press reported.
"The performance included toy-guns and the apparent shooting of a character in a dramatized scene that played out on the field as the band played. The scene is an interpretation of the movie 'John Q.,’" Greene confirmed.
In the film ‘John Q.,’ actor Denzel Washington played the role of a man whose son needed a lifesaving heart transplant that Washington’s character could not afford due to medical insurance limitations, the Jackson Free Press reported.
In one scene, the main character holds a SWAT officer hostage, which is vastly different than what appeared in the high school performance.
The Mississippi Department of Public Safety Commissioner Marshall Fisher said the performance “only exacerbates the war against law enforcement” across the country, WLOX reported.
“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,” Fisher said. “I have to question whoever made this decision in regards to what message they are sending to our children.”
Jones was suspended shortly after the incident occurred.
A group of his supporters claimed that he was unaware about the widely-publicized murders of the local Brookhaven officers prior to the halftime performance, WLBT reported.
Although Jones was fired by school district administrators, the Jackson Public Schools Board recently overturned that decision, according to WLBT.
“The Board of Trustees, having reviewed the case, has changed the termination of the band director to a three-month suspension without pay,” Greene and Board President Jeanne Hairston announced in a statement.
“While the Board and the Administration differed on this decision, we are looking ahead, united, in our shared commitment to excellence in service to children and families even in the face of tough decisions yet to come,” the statement read.
But having Jones back at the helm won’t overturn the penalty that the Mississippi High Schools Activities Association (MHSAA) imposed against the marching band shortly after the incident occurred.
The MHSAA determined that the band members displayed “inappropriate conduct” during the halftime performance, and suspended them from playing at any other MHSAA-sanctioned events for the rest of the academic year, WBLT reported.
More specifically, the MHSAA found the performance was “unbecoming of a wholesome band program,” and that it demonstrated a “lack of administrative control.”
“We think that is unfair,” Reverend Dwayne Pickett told WAPT at the time. “They deserve the right to be heard. They deserve the right to perform and do what they love to do.”
Forest Hill junior Kameron Taylor said that the entire point of the performance went right over Brookhaven citizens’ heads, the Clarion Ledger reported.
"I think the people of Brookhaven misunderstood the entire show," Taylor declared. "They're judging the performance off of one snippet. People should look deeper and evaluate the show before making these decisions."