High School Apologizes, Suspends Band Director For Half-Time Show Featuring Students Pointing Toy Guns At Cops

In a massive moment of poor taste orchestrated by the Mississippi high school band director, members of Forest Hill High School’s band took to the field last Friday at an away game, brandishing toy guns and depicting a hostage scene during half-time.

The performance, captured in photo by Facebook user Jackie Kennedy Malone, has enraged the community of Jackson, Mississippi and the families of Brookhaven High School students, where the performance took place.

Though the performance was said to be an interpretation of a scene from the Denzel Washington movie, John Q, it angered many— not only because of the violently shocking nature of seeing of children wielding guns on a high school campus but because the performance comes less than a week after two Brookhaven police officers (Zach Moak and James White) died by gunshot in the line of duty and the half-time performance featured students (some dressed as medical personnel) pointing guns at students dressed as police officers (specifically SWAT team members).

Images of the scene went viral online with Kennedy Malone’s post reaching nearly 5k reactions, 3.5k comments, and over 7k shares with most commenters upset at the depiction:

People seemed to be clear on whose shoulders the blame for the tone deaf performance squarely rested and why it was an unacceptable time and place:

Local officials were quick to denounce the performance, with Mississippi’s governor Phil Bryant tweeting: 

This is unacceptable in a civilized society. Someone should be held accountable.

According to Newsweek, on Saturday, Jackson’s mayor, Chokwe Antar Lumumba, announced that Forest Hill High School’s band director had been suspended and released this statement of apology:

  There is an active investigation into the circumstances that led to this performance. 

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. 

Superintendent Dr. Errick L. Greene of Jackson Public Schools also offered his apologies for the incident:

  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.

H/T: Newsweek, Indy100