A high school band performance in Mississippi went wildly off the rails Friday night. At halftime of a game between Brookhaven and Forest Hill, the Forest Hill band performed a routine that appeared to show band members dressed as doctors and nurses pointing fake assault weapons at other band members dressed as police officers wearing SWAT gear.
While that on its own is already wildly inappropriate for a high school band performance, the context makes the performance even more insensitive. Brookhaven Police Officers James White and Zach Moak were killed while responding to reports of shots fired last Saturday.
State trooper Josh Smith was also killed Sunday morning. If his death is determined to have occurred within the line of duty, it will mark the deadliest 24-hour period in Mississippi history, according to the Jackson Clarion-Ledger.
White’s and Moak’s call numbers were painted on the Brookhaven field Friday night.
While fallout from the performance was just beginning, the Forest Hill band was already uninvited from a band competition taking place on Saturday.
“Parents and students, I have talked with BHS Administration. MSHAA has been contacted, and Forrest Hill has been uninvited to the competition at CA today,” the Brookhaven Band Boosters posted on their official Facebook page. “Coming from me- Please as humans, let us remember that while this has been a horrible situation, the students are the ones losing. They have worked hard on their show, unfortunately, their leadership chose the wrong form of show to perform. Please show the students compassion, and I personally pray that they will all learn something from this situation.”
The disturbing part begins at the 8:30 mark, when an office in SWAT gear approaches from the far right side of the screen. The band member actively fights the officer, getting him to the ground, and appears to depict shooting him.
According to the Clarion-Ledger, two state legislators have already voiced plans to make formal complaints against Forest Hill.
“I will be making a complaint to the Mississippi High School Activities Association as well as to Forest Hill and JPS administration. How could any administrator think that halftime show was appropriate?” wrote Sen. Sally Doty, R-Brookhaven.
“I have had a ton of messages on this completely despicable, disgusting, & disrespectful act from last night. I’ve been told Mississippi Department of Education has been notified & will be launching an investigation into this. Many of us including myself will be following up to make sure that this doesn’t happen again,” posted Rep. Tom Miles, D-Forest.
Update> The Governor of Mississippi has now weighed in:
This is unacceptable in a civilized society. Someone should be held accountable. https://t.co/hq3hJnj4xA
— Phil Bryant (@PhilBryantMS) October 6, 2018