Ole Miss candlelight vigil follows ugly protest, racial slurs after presidential results announced

Vigil follows re-election ruckus

OXFORD — A student protest at Ole Miss that turned ugly with racial slurs after the results of the presidential election were announced late Tuesday night was followed by a vigil Wednesday night calling for racial harmony.

About 700 people held up candles outside the administrative building at the University of Mississippi, countering Tuesday's protest over President Barack Obama's re-election. Many said in television interviews that they were embarrassed by the protest at the university that has been trying to move beyond its racially troubled past.

Two Ole Miss students were arrested late Tuesday during the demonstrations that included racial slurs and reports of fireworks being tossed as the gathering of students, fueled by social media, grew from about 40 students to more than 400 by the time university police broke up the ruckus. There were no reports of injuries.

The university, which has been celebrating its evolution from the rock-throwing and shootings of hard-fought desegregation 50 years ago, has initiated an investigation into the events.

"As we have acknowledged throughout this year of recognizing 50 years of racial integration at our university, despite evidence of progress, we still live in an imperfect world," Chancellor Dan Jones said in a written statement.

University police reported the late-night demonstrations began when about 30-40 students gathered at the Student Union to protest Obama's re-election. Within 20 minutes, the crowd swelled to more than 400 students, and many were chanting political slogans, university police said.

Campus police broke up that demonstration, but about 100 students reconvened at a dormitory, where one student was arrested for disorderly conduct and another for public intoxication.

Jones said university police did not witness some of the incidents shown on websites, such as a burning Obama-Biden sign.

"Nevertheless, the reports of uncivil language and shouted racial epithets appear to be accurate and are universally condemned by the university, student leaders and the vast majority of students who are more representative of our university creed," Jones said.

"Parents are being notified that it's a normal day on campus and that one of America's safest campuses is safe again this morning, though all of us are ashamed of the few students who have negatively affected the reputations of each of us and of our university," Jones said Wednesday in an open letter to the "Ole Miss Family."

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