Officials in Mississippi have launched a hate crime investigation after a 12-year-old received a “disturbing” doll during a festival.
The incident took place at Krewe of Nereids parade, a Mardi Gras festival in Waveland, Miss., the Sun Herald reports. Nicole Fairconeture, who attends the festival every year, told the newspaper that her daughter received the doll from a man on a New Orleans Saints-themed float.
“She grabbed the item, put it to her chest, and was coming back,” Fairconeture said. “[The man] called her back and when she turned around, he said, ‘That’s you.’”
The toy, which Fairconeture said “was dressed like a slave,” also had a string of beads tied around its neck. The mom said she believed the beads were meant to resemble a noose.
Fairconeture quickly called over a police officer and one of her family members filed a report. Mike Smith, Waveland’s mayor, heard about the incident and told the Sun Herald his town’s police department is working with officers in nearby Bay St. Louis to investigate the case as a hate crime.
“When I saw that it had happened, it infuriated me,” Smith said. “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.”
It’s unclear if a suspect has been identified, but Smith said police have received numerous tips about the float and who may have been on it. Meanwhile, Fairconeture said her daughter was pretty upset following the parade.
“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.”