“In my conversations with Dylan he has been measured in his approach to all of this, repeatedly saying he wanted to be sure he gave these young ladies and the others involved every opportunity to do the right thing. He has offered for them to join him in using this to help unify the school despite the differences that exist. That’s quite a bit more leadership than we have seen out of the Ole Miss Administration of Chancellor Jeff Vitter.”
Another person has been identified and arrested in the aftermath of an over month long investigation into the destruction of an Associated Student Body candidate’s signs at Ole Miss. One of the signs owned by third year student Dylan Wood portrayed an image of the Mississippi state flag. The flag was painted over and the letters “BLM” for Black Lives Matter was also painted on the sign. The state flag was removed from campus by the University Administration last year and has been the subject of heated debate for several months.
Freshman accounting major Taia McAfee was escorted to Lafayette County Detention Center Monday in connection with the vandalism, according to University Police Department Chief Tim Potts. McAfee was notified of the warrant for her arrest Friday, turned herself in voluntarily Monday and left the detention center immediately after paying bond.
I wrote commentary on April 3rd of what was known of the destruction of Wood’s sign and two others, one month after the incident occurred. At the time, the University of Mississippi Police Dept. refused to allow the video that captured the act to be viewed, but did say the only person who had been identified on the video was Senior undergraduate student Dominique Scott.
Scott refused to provide the names of the others with her in the video to police when taken in for questioning. In an attempt to offer Scott and those involved a chance to step forward and accept responsibility, Wood said he would not press charges if they agreed to publicly apologize and join him for a public meeting to discuss the flag issue and to gain some understanding as a student body for each other’s opposing views. Mrs. Scott refused.
“Over a month went by with that person knowing and the other people who were involved in the event knowing that we were looking for them but refused to turn themselves in,” UMPD Chief Potts was quoted as saying.
As written in the follow up article on MississippiPEP.com on April 7, after the UMPD refused to release the video or allow him to see it, Dylan Wood decided he had enough and filed an affidavit against Scott for Conspiracy to Commit a Crime. Within hours of filing the affidavit the UMPD received an anonymous call claiming that all four individuals suddenly would meet with Wood if the charges were dropped.
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Scott, who it turns out was on the video but wasn’t captured on camera defacing the sign, is attempting to play the victim, saying Wood is after her because of her politics. Ms. Scott claims she has been victimized by “rumors and lies,” and fears for her safety on campus. Yet, it wasn’t her sign that had a threatening acronym painted on it. It was Dylan Woods sign, as she stood there and watched and then hid the real identities of those who did it for over a month.
McAfee’s comments imply a young lady torn between wanting to be remembered for her activism, but too embarrassed to face the public and accept responsibility. Despite refusing to come forward for over a month and refusing a public meeting with Wood to discuss it, McAfee now tells the DM, “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. 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.”
Ah! Now she’s ready to speak up for other students. Just not by way of a civil dialogue in a public meeting.
Maybe she plans to buy more paint.
I had the privilege of judging Ms. McAfee at many debate tournaments when she was a senior on the Murrah High School team. That team was loaded with talent and they won the state tournament that year. Ms. McAfee was a stellar policy debater. She has more dialogue in her than a lot of folks I know twice her age. She should rethink Dylan Wood’s invitation. It could be an incredibly important moment for the students to show the country that there is more to Mississippi than racial identity politics.
Perhaps had the UMPD not tried to mediate the dispute and clean it up to help the Ole Miss Administration avoid another black-eye over all this nonsense that has been allowed to fester on campus and within the student body, then maybe this thing is ended a month ago.
As Chief Potts said, “Had it been me, I would have just picked the person up if the warrant was signed and let the chips fall where they may. They wanted to try to work it out, so we wanted to give them every opportunity.”
Perhaps if Ms. Scott was as equally magnanimous in her approach to others as Dylan Wood has been, then there wouldn’t be students on campus like Ms. McAfee who appear to believe their presence in Oxford is meant to fight some ridiculous social justice war to gain back what “oppression” has taken away.
For goodness sakes ladies, you are at a four-year college. I don’t know about McAfee’s scholarships, but Scott is enjoying a full scholarship to get a masters degree. In no country on earth and in no time in history would that be considered oppressive or hateful.
In my conversations with Dylan he has been measured in his approach to all of this, repeatedly saying he wanted to be sure he gave these young ladies and the others involved every opportunity to do the right thing. He has offered for them to join him in using this to help unify the school despite the differences that exist. That’s quite a bit more leadership than we have seen out of the Ole Miss Administration of Chancellor Jeff Vitter.
Wood deserves credit for his prudence and his care of a very difficult situation, made even more difficult by those on campus who want to pick fights and then run and hide behind the skirts of the administration and pretend to be victims. It’s made more difficult by an administration who coddles such dangerous behavior while they fret over whether somebody might catch a glimpse of Mississippi’s official state flag.
Dylan Wood may be the only one out of all of this mess showing any responsibility at all.