Oxford, Miss. The University of Mississippi wants to question three white students in connection with the vandalism of the statue of James Meredith, who in 1962 became the first black student to enroll in the then all-white university.
But attorneys for the three students aren't allowing them to be questioned without arrest warrants. The three have not been identified.
Police on Sunday found a noose tied around the neck of the statue, along with an old Georgia flag with a Confederate battle emblem in its design. The design has since been updated to exclude the emblem.
University spokesman Danny Blanton said Friday the school's findings have been turned over to the district attorney's office. Blanton said the university will also proceed with internal disciplinary action through a judicial panel that consists of both faculty and students.
District Attorney Ben Creekmore did not immediately respond to a message left by The Associated Press. However, he told WMC-TV in Memphis that criminal charges would be difficult.
Creekmore said investigators and prosecutors have looked into several misdemeanors as possible charges, but he said criminal charges were unlikely by his office because the statue was not physically damaged, and the suspects did not appear to be trespassing.
He said federal investigators could opt to bring charges if they saw fit. Creekmore said if new information comes to light, his office could revisit the issue.
The FBI said Friday it planned to expand the investigation for potential violations of federal law.
Meanwhile, those three freshman have been kicked out of the Alpha Chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon and the fraternity itself has been indefinitely suspended by its national organization.