Superintendent apologizes for halftime show that has social media buzzing

The Superintendent of Jackson Public Schools has apologized for the Forest Hill High School halftime show that depicted students dressed as doctors and nurses holding others dressed as SWAT team members at gunpoint.

“On behalf of the Jackson Public School District, I want to offer my deep and sincere apologies for the performance by the Forest Hill High School band during Friday’s football halftime show in Brookhaven,” Superintendent Errick Greene wrote in a letter posted on Twitter about 1 p.m. “Based on the movie, “John Q,” the band’s performance depicted a hostage scene that included toy guns. JPS has a great deal of respect and appreciation for our law enforcement partners.”

Forest Hill was playing at Brookhaven, where two police officers were shot and killed last weekend.

Gov. Phil Bryant earlier on Saturday tweeted “someone should be held responsible.”

WLBT in Jackson reported the band director responsible for the show has been suspended.

Social media posts with photos of the show were shared hundreds of times and the reaction has been fierce.

@JPSDistrict Forest Hill’s band director needs to be fired Monday morning if not sooner. Did they not realize what just went down in Brookhaven?,” one man wrote.

Many tagged Bryant in their tweets asking him to condemn the skit or hold someone accountable. The school is one of seven in the Jackson Public School District.

The state Board of Education last year voted for the state to take over the faltering 27,000-student district, but Bryant worked with Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba instead formed a commission to attempt to turn the district around. Several on Twitter urged Bryant to reconsider a takeover.

The Daily Leader in Brookhaven, where the game was played, reported the show may have been based on John Q, a movie about a man who takes a hospital emergency room hostage.

The head of the Department of Public Service, which oversees the Highway Patrol and other state law enforcement agencies was incensed.

“The Mississippi Department of Public Safety is extremely disturbed by Forest Hill’s leadership approving and allowing their band to display a re-enactment of violence against law enforcement at a high school football game in Brookhaven,” Commissioner Marshall Fisher said in a release. “This is highly inappropriate considering the recent loss of two Brookhaven Police officers to senseless violence

“There is no excuse for such a distasteful performance. This only exacerbates the war against law enforcement in our nation. Mimicking acts of violence against law enforcement, or members of the public should never be condoned at a high school football game or any function whatsoever. The Governor’s School Safety Task Force is currently working to reduce school violence which is at an all-time high. I have to question whoever made this decision in regards to what message they are sending to our children.”

Paul Hampton: 228-284-7296; @jpaulhampton