A high school football player in Mississippi allegedly had a noose placed around his neck and pulled back by one or more fellow students during a break in practice earlier this month.
The president of the Mississippi chapter of the NAACP is calling for a federal investigation of the alleged incident as a racial hate crime.
"No child should be walking down the hall or in a locker room and be accosted with a noose around their neck," Derrick Johnson said Monday during a news conference in Wiggins, Miss. "This is 2016, not 1916. This is America. This is a place where children should go to school and feel safe in their environment."
The alleged victim, an African American and a sophomore football player at Stone High, has not been identified. His parents, Hollis and Stacey Payton, attended the news conference but did not speak. Johnson said that, according to the Paytons, up to four students, all white, were involved in the incident, which Johnson said took place on Oct. 13 near a locker room.
First-year Stone football Coach John Feaster has a slightly different account of the alleged incident, which he told ESPN took place in the locker room and involved only one student other than the victim.
"To my knowledge it was one individual. It was not a group," said Feaster, who stated he reported the alleged incident to school administration as quickly as possible.
Feaster added: "The individual that was responsible hasn't been with our team since the incident. I just want it understood, it could have been the biggest superstar and he would have been gone. I don't care who it is -- if you do something like that, you can't be part of our team."
According to ESPN, Johnson wants any student responsible involved to be expelled from school, adding that "these same individuals came to school earlier this year brandishing Confederate flags on their vehicles."
Supt. Inita Owen and school board attorney Sean Courtney have yet to comment.
About a quarter of Stone's 800 students are African American.
Johnson told ESPN that Stacey Payton reported the alleged incident to the Stone County Sheriff's Department but was discouraged from filing a report. Sheriff Mike Farmer did not respond to ESPN's request for a comment.