Meridian Star

April 27, 2013

Police, FBI continue to probe hate crime

By Brian Livingston / blivingston@themeridianstar.com
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     An investigation into what authorities at the Meridian Police Department are calling a hate crime is continuing as MPD detectives and authorities with the FBI try to determine who is behind the incident.

    Thursday morning, employees for Democratic mayoral candidate Percy Bland discovered what appeared to be a child's stuffed dog blanket dangling from an outdoor light fixture at Bland's insurance office located on 24th Avenue in downtown Meridian. When officers and detectives arrived on the scene at about 8 a.m. they noted the item was fixed with a hangman's noose.

    Capt. Dean Harper, commander of the MPD's Criminal Investigation Division, said Friday the scene was worked by detectives who gathered the evidence to be forwarded to the FBI for analysis. Harper said the FBI are continuing to assist in the investigation of the incident.

    Bland said during his first mayoral campaign four years ago he had often received hate mail and phone calls and been called the "N" word. He said he expects to have people not want him to run for office. But this is clearly crossing the line.

    "This is a cowardly act designed to intimidate, scare and terrorize," Bland said Thursday. "There is no place for this in our society.”

    Mayor Cheri Barry said she was saddened to hear of the alleged incident.

    "As mayor of Meridian, I want everyone in this community to know that this type of behavior will not be tolerated," Barry said. "The Meridian Police Department and, I understand the FBI, are investigating and they both have my full support."

    On the Meridian Police Department Facebook page Thursday afternoon, authorities posted a picture of what they called a baby's stuffed animal blanket that was used in the incident. MPD authorities were asking the public’s help in identifying the owner of this blanket. They said it is apparently a baby blanket used for an infant or toddler with an animal’s head sewn into the hood and white enclosures for the hands.

    MPD authorities asked if you know the owner, have seen it in someone’s possession or know what store it is sold in, please call police at 601-485-1863 or CrimeStoppers at 601-485-1860.