Stunning revelations: About 100 members of Florida A&M University's famous marching band are NOT registered students. This includes at least three of the 11 band members charged almost two weeks ago with felony hazing after the brutal November 2011 hazing death of openly gay drum major Robert Champion, reports the Orlando Sentinel.
FAMU trustees still do not know why percussionists Caleb Jackson and Brian Jones, both charged with felony hazing in Champion's death, would have been allowed to participate in the band and be on the parked charter bus where Champion was beaten after the Florida Classic. To join the band, a musician must be a FAMU student or attend either Tallahassee Community College or Florida State University, as well as be enrolled in a FAMU band course.
Jackson and Jones were not FAMU students at the time of the Classic, the university said. Jones, 23, was last enrolled at FAMU in the spring of 2011, according to FAMU. ...
Jackson, 23, and another student charged in Champion's death, Lasherry Codner, 20, were identified by FAMU as students of Tallahassee Community College. Codner, however, attended the community college only in the fall of 2009 and the spring of 2010, a community-college spokeswoman told the Sentinel. Jackson attended the community college only in fall, 2008.
FAMU is Florida's only historically black public university.
The news prompted a dramatic turn of events on Thursday. Seventy-one-year-old band director Julian White, who has directed the band for decades, unexpectedly announced that he was "retiring after fighting to keep his job for months."
Robert Champion was pummeled to death on the band bus during a trip to Orlando on 19 November 2011. This was after the Florida Classic football game at the Citrus Bowl. The 26-year-old drum major suffered blunt trauma blows and died from shock caused by severe bleeding, according to the autopsy. Champion was reportedly vomiting before he was found unresponsive aboard the bus.
Thirteen defendants were charged with felony hazing two weeks ago. Two defendants face midemeanor counts. The felony hazing charge carries a maximum penalty of almost six years. Champion's family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the bus company and driver, claiming they willingly participated in illegal hazing acts over many years.
Champion's parents publicly revealed in January that their son was gay. In addition to being vocally opposed to hazing, Champion's sexuality could have been among the reasons why he was viciously beaten during the attack, according to the family's attorney. Read more at my article for Ebony.com: "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell": Why Has Black Media Ignored the Sexuality of FAMU Hazing Victim Robert Champion?"
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