High school band performance prompts outrage for depicting officers held at gunpoint

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JACKSON, Miss. — A high school band performance sparked outrage online and apologies from district officials after a halftime skit depicted police officers being held at gunpoint.

The performance by Forest Hill High School in Mississippi Friday night led to the suspension of the school’s band director, Mike Evans of WLBT reported on Facebook. Pictures of the performance show students in medical scrubs pointing the toy weapons at students dressed as law enforcement officers.

In a statement published to Facebook, the Jackson Public School District apologized for the scene, saying it was loosely based on the film, “John Q.” The movie stars Denzel Washington playing a character who takes a hospital emergency room hostage in an attempt to save his child after learning his medical insurance won’t cover the costs of surgery.

But critics noted that the school’s performance was at Brookhaven High School, about an hour down the road from Jackson, where two officers had recently been buried and memorialized after getting killed in the line of duty.

“JPS has a great deal of respect and appreciation for our law enforcement partners,” the statement reads in part. “The band’s performance does not depict the values and people in our community, and was incredibly insensitive to the students, families, law enforcement officials and the entire Brookhaven community. For this we sincerely apologize to all, and we pledge to do better in the future.”

The scene also prompted a statement from the Mississippi Association of Chiefs of Police, also published to Facebook by Evans.

“On behalf of police chiefs throughout Mississippi, we find the act of allowing students to portray themselves as holding SWAT team members hostage with a weapon to be deplorable, disgusting, and outrageous,” the statement reads. “It is never okay for students to participate in something that defiles and desecrates a law enforcement officer. The adults in charge here should know better. The lesson we wish others to take from this is that there are consequences for actions.”

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