Police in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi are investigating a possible hate crime incident in which a 12-year-old girl was handed a black doll with a noose tied around its neck during a Mardi Gras parade on Sunday.
The child’s mother, Nicole Fairconeture, who lives in Pass Christian, about 10 miles away, told the Biloxi Sun Herald that while she and her family were attending the Krewe of Nereids parade in front of her uncle’s business, which sits near the border of Bay St. Louis and Waveland, when a white man called her daughter to a black and gold New Orleans Saints float to give her a throw -- an item passed to parade watchers from passing floats.
“She grabbed the item, put it to her chest, and was coming back (to her family) and he called her back,” Fairconeture said. “When she turned around, he said, ‘That’s you.’”
The doll was “dressed like a slave,” apparently a “Mammy” caricature, and had beads around its neck that formed a noose, she said. Upset, Fairconeture called police officers over and handed them the doll.
“She’s just very disturbed by it, that he pointed her out in the crowd to give her what to her was an insult,” she told the Sun Herald. “Her peers had to see it, my family had to deal with that. ... It’s really disturbing.”
Waveland Mayor Mike Smith told the Sun Herald that the incident is being investigated as a hate crime. He said in a statement, “When I seen that it had happened, it infuriated me. The Waveland Police Department will certainly do whatever it can to aid Bay St. Louis (police) in trying to get to the bottom of it."
He also added, “We’re steady getting messages and leads as to what truck (and float) it is."
Krewe of Nereids representatives said the float was in the parade but was not linked to their group. "The Krewe of Nereids was shocked to hear of the incident of a racially offensive item being thrown from one of the truck floats which followed the Nereids’ parade on Sunday,” the organization wrote in a Facebook post on Monday. “These floats are not part of, nor in anyway affiliated with Nereids, other than parading on the same day."
The statement continued, "These floats are independently owned and operated, and the riders on these floats are not members of Nereids. The Nereids organization does not condone or agree with this behavior and has never approved of or supported any offensive conduct in the past, nor will such offensive conduct and racially divisive acts be tolerated or excused now or at any time in the future."
Fairconeture told CNN that she has been contacted by the NAACP, the Boys and Girls Club and the local school district. Regarding her daughter she said, "We're trying to keep her lifted and let her know that this is OK, and to let other people know that if this happens to them, they need to say something.”
In a similar incident, a man in Gretna, Louisiana says his 2 ½ -year-old son was tossed a racist caricature during the Mystic Knights of Adonis parade on Saturday.
Pablo Reyes told Louisiana newspaper, The Advocate that as float riders passed by tossing beads and other trinkets into the crowd, one tossed his little boy a small object in a plastic bag that turned out to be a Black figurine of man holding a watermelon. Reyes said he was shocked and took the item from his son and put it in his pocket.
“It only took 2½ years for my son to experience racism,” said Reyes. “It’s not going to make me stop going to parades; it will just make me more observant.”
Knights of Adonis Captain Chad Usea told The Advocate that he learned about what happened through a social media post and that he was trying to find out who tossed the object.