An African American Ole Miss student and resident of the Retreat Cottage Community in Oxford was doused with an alcoholic beverage and called a “black nigger” by unidentified passengers in a black truck around 8 p.m. Monday.
Oxford Police think the incident might be linked to the defacement of the statue of James Meredith on campus early Sunday morning.
The incident occurred at the Retreat, which is a 668-bed community at 2405 Anderson Road, about a mile from the Ole Miss campus. It’s populated almost entirely by Ole Miss students.
Kiesha Reeves, a third-year senior and participant in the Honors College program, says her roommate returned to the residence describing a black truck full of drunken people yelling racial slurs.
A while later as Reeves was retrieving her phone charger from her car, she heard a vehicle approaching with loud yelling and laughing. Partially out of her car now, she saw the black truck speeding toward her and then observed a shadowed passenger hurling liquid at her face. Moving quickly she avoided most of the spray, but said some got on her shirt and she determined it was an alcoholic drink.
“It all happened so fast and I was so shocked that I couldn’t really see any faces, only the outline of the black truck,” she said. “I heard the laughter and words ‘black nigger’ very distinctly,”
Reeves said she immediately called her aunt (an Ole Miss grad who serves as a mentor and adviser to Reeves) and father, who urged her to call the police. Reeves said this is the first time since arriving at Ole Miss that she has been made to feel unwelcome.
Oxford Police Officer Cody Pruitt arrived within 15 minutes and initiated the investigation. He confirmed that Reeves could not precisely identify the truck or the driver or passengers beyond the truck’s black color. When told that the truck had exited the complex on Anchorage Road heading into Lafayette County, Pruitt told Reeves that he could not pursue the vehicle into the County without a positive identification.
Detective Jeff McCutchen of the Oxford Police Department confirmed that Oxford policemen aren’t authorized to conduct searches outside of the city limits outside of “hot pursuit” situations, but added that his department took Ms. Reeves complaint very seriously.
“I can’t say that we’ve had any more complaints about the Retreat than any other residential complex, but we recognize that the facility is full of college kids.” he said. “This occurred on a long weekend, partying does go on and traffic is increased by friends coming in for the long weekend. We want to be vigilant in protecting the safety of the retreat residents.”
Reeves says she received a call from Detective Hardie Meeks of OPD on Feb.18 getting her version of events. According to Reeves and confirmed by McCutchen, Meeks said that a connection might exist between the Reeves incident and the defacement of the James Meredith statue on Sunday morning. The detective invited Reeves to come to the police station and view some photographs of truck to allow police to narrow down their search.
“We don’t know that there is any connection, but in cases like this we would be irresponsible not to run down every lead,” Detective McCutchen said.
Reeves says that the racial atmosphere in the Retreat development is hostile at times. She recalls an occurrence where a young white man walking down the sidewalk toward where Reeves and her roommate were sitting outside their residence spit on the ground near them. Reeves adds he then said, “”You can’t live here, you’re black.”
HottyToddy.com contacted the local Retreat Cottage Community and the corporate headquarters in Memphis and has been unable to reach anyone for comment.
Despite the random racial hostility she has experienced, Reeves says she loves Ole Miss. The criminal justice major who minors in African American studies, says she has seen more good than bad when it comes to racial progress. “I have white friends and I love my teachers, my scholarship opportunity as a Lucky Day Scholar, my field of study and this beautiful campus. I think these kind of incidents reflect the battle to find balance between those who don’t want the university to change and those who want it to progress.”
Reeves is from what she describes as a tough town, Europa, Miss., 30 miles from Starkville. She was inspired by her Aunt Michelle as a child who graduated from Ole Miss, earned her masters and now teaches at Ittawamba Community College. Michelle Reeves attended Ole Miss classes with her niece on her knee, but she advised Kiesha to go to an all-black college instead of her Alma Mater.
Kiesha didn’t follow her aunt’s advice, but she does hope to emulate her mentor as a civil rights activist. Kiesha says her goal is to someday become a civil rights attorney.
HottyToddy.com staff report