High School Band Suspended Over Halftime Show, Upsetting Many

The Forest Hill High School marching band has been suspended from preforming for one year.

Jackson, MS – The Forest Hill High School band has been suspended from performing for the rest of the academic year, after they depicted the execution of police officers during a halftime skit in Brookhaven on Oct. 5.

Just one week after Brookhaven Police Patrolman James White and Corporal Zack Moak were murdered in the line of duty, the Forest Hill High School marching band traveled to Brookhaven with the football team for the game.

During their halftime performance, students dressed as nurses and doctors used fake rifles to depict the execution of students dressed as police officers.

The Mississippi High Schools Activities Association (MHSAA) imposed the penalty against the band on the basis of “inappropriate conduct,” WLBT reported.

More specifically, the MHSAA found the performance was “unbecoming of a wholesome band program,” and that it demonstrated a “lack of administrative control.”

The sanction was immediately met with protest from some parents and members of the community, according to WAPT.

“There are some sensitivities that should have been considered, however, they were doing a performance based on what they practiced,” Reverend Dwayne Pickett told the news outlet. “And now, because of the Mississippi High School Sports Activities Association and because of the uproar, they have been suspended from performing for the all year.”

“We think that is unfair,” Pickett argued. “They deserve the right to be heard. They deserve the right to perform and do what they love to do.”

The reverend was part of a group of parents and religious leaders who held a press conference on Friday in defense of the high school band and its director, Demetri Jones.

Jones has been suspended since shortly after the incident occurred.

The group said it plans to appeal the MHSAA sanction, and claimed that Jones was unaware about the widely-publicized murders of the Brookhaven officers prior to the halftime performance, WLBT reported.

“Let me be clear,” Jackson City Councilman Aaron Banks told WAPT. “We all understand the bad timing for the field show considering what happened to the law enforcement officers there in Brookhaven.”

“However, we are against any punishment toward our children,” he added. “I don’t think anybody’s job should just be thrown out because of bad judgment. Yes, let’s talk about it, let’s discuss the wrong, let’s discuss how we can be more considerate, but we want to keep the program intact.”

“The children suffering are being punished on behalf of bad judgment, or a bad decision, does not need to happen,” Banks said.

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.

"JPS has a great deal of respect and appreciation for our law enforcement partners," the superintendent continued. "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.”

“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,” Greene said.

Brookhaven Mayor Joe Cox said that Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba personally apologized to him for the halftime show, WLOX reported.

“I offer my sincerest regrets to the Brookhaven community for the insensitivity that [was] portrayed during the Friday evening halftime show," Lumumba said in a statement to the Jackson Free Press. "There is an active investigation into the circumstances that led to this performance.”

Lumumba said he did not believe the Forest Hill students who participated in the show had a “malice intent,” and said the adults tasked with supervising and guiding them should have stepped in.

"Our students should have been instructed that this was neither the time or place for that performance,” he said.

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.”

“This is unacceptable in a civilized society,” Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant said in a tweet the morning after the Forest Hill High School band’s performance. “Someone should be held accountable.”

Comments
No. 1-25
Skoolboy42
Skoolboy42

It’s called consequences. Somewhere we have gotten away from teaching about choices and consequences. I think it’s a great lesson and one that can impact many surrounding the situation for some time.

LauraJaneT
LauraJaneT

They got off easy.

Just-My-Thoughts
Just-My-Thoughts

Reverend Dwayne Pickett did you ever read Romans 13:1-5? It pertains to submitting to authority, president and police also, Romans 13:1-5 New International Version (NIV) Submission to Governing Authorities

13 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

They all knew what they were doing. Who do they think they're kidding. Band leader and ANY adult who knew about this needs to be fired. They would demand that if their "race" were subjected to anything like this...........showing blacks being shot. So sick and tired of the black community trying to convince whites it is all their fault when they do horrific things and others are to accept it. B S

Doober
Doober

They should have been expelled!

LEO0301
LEO0301

The action against these students is appropriate. Now, we need to know what they will do with the band director for allowing this shameful skit to be performed. I also have to comment on the response of the "Reverend" and the parents who believe it was simply poor judgement. These kids know better, I assure you. They have to face the consequences of their actions. That's how children learn. The problem so many of these children brought up in the wrong environment have is never being punished for wrong behavior until it's too late and law enforcement has to get involved. The response of these so called adults is embarrassing, especially the "Reverend". Face the music (no pun intended) and move on.