All Articles Tagged "Robert Champion"
We told you last year about the late Robert Champion, a 26-year-old drum major at FAMU, who was beaten to death aboard a chartered bus after a performance in late 2011. The beating was a form of hazing, called “crossing Bus C,” according to the Los Angeles Times. As pointed out in reports, Champion had to move past a large group of fellow marching band mates, who hit him with a flurry of punches, drumsticks and other big and small objects. The effects were serious enough that Champion died of his injuries, and an autopsy found that his muscles had taken an immense beating and that he had died of internal bleeding.
More than one year later, and after the suspension of the band, some school staff members (including the school president) resigning and those band members involved being initially charged with third-degree felony hazing, said charges have now been upgraded. Champion’s mother was disappointed in the light charges that were handed out early on, and her opinions were clearly heard (that and more evidence came in), because now 12 marching band members who dealt out the blows that cost Champion his life in the process of trying to cruelly haze him, have now been charged with second-degree manslaughter, which could come with a max of 15 years in prison. Champion’s mother is ecstatic about the upgrade in charges and in the Orlando Sentinel she said that the family is happy that the Orange-Osceola State Attorney’s Office thought to move charges from hazing to manslaughter, because “Hazing does not depict what was done to my son.” Pam Champion and the drum majors family have been open about their further disappointment with Florida A&M for not taking the right steps to deal with hazing claims and problems reported in the past, before Champion’s death.
According to the Huffington Post, two former band members were able to have their cases resolved late last year, so they were able to avoid the manslaughter charges handed out yesterday. The two young men, Brian Jones and Ryan Dean, were sentenced after facing the original third-degree hazing charge and pleading no contest. Jones was given six months of community control (frequent check-ins on his behavior) an two years of probation with 200 hours of community service. Dean was sentenced to four years probation and the same 200 hours of community service. There’s no telling what their specific role in the hazing against Champion was, and seeing that they were able to get off with not too heavy of a sentence means we’ll have to wait and see if these 12 other individuals really will face jail time. However, whatever happens, hopefully others will learn from this very sad situation and stop hazing, because not only is it traumatizing, as we can all see, it can be deadly.
Not really sure when those with positions of authority in these organizations and bands will get the memo that hazing is wrong on so many levels and needs to stop. But maybe, just maybe, after the death of Robert Champion and the charges brought against 13 members of FAMU’s legendary band, people will learn.
Champion, a 26-year-old drum major at FAMU, was beaten to death aboard a chartered bus after a performance last fall. Band members beat Champion severely, leaving large bruises on his chest, arms, shoulders and back, according to the AP. Witnesses to the beating say Champion might have been targeted not only because he was against members partaking in hazing, but also because he was gay, and was a candidate for the role of chief drum major.
The 13 individuals had the charges brought against them today, five months after the incident happened, and 11 out of the 13 people will face a hazing resulting in death charge, which can carry up to six years. The other two individuals will face misdemeanor charges for their role in Champion’s death. While the parents of the young man were pleased that charges were being filed, they were disappointed that the charges were not more severe. The mother of Champion, Pam, told the AP, “I thought there would be more serious charges. I thought it should send a harsher message.” It seems the possibility of manslaughter and second-degree murder charges were shut down. But State Attorney Lawson Lamar said these charges weren’t sought because murder didn’t seem to be the motive, plus, there’s no evidence to support that thought:
“The testimony obtained to date does not support a charge of murder, in that it does not contain the elements of murder. We can prove participation in hazing and a death. We do not have a blow or a shot or a knife thrust that killed Mr. Champion. It is an aggregation of things which exactly fit the Florida statute as written by the Legislature.”
Because of the incident, the school has suspended the band, and Champion’s parents are even trying to sue the bus company for standing by and allowing the beating to happen–on the bus. But representatives of the company said the driver was not near the bus during the beating, and if he was, he wouldn’t have let it happen.
This is definitely a sad situation, and I hope the family can get some justice for Robert. Unfortunately, this has become far too common of a thing on college campuses. People hoping to get the shine of being a member of a prestigious band or having the chance to wear certain letters have been getting beat, run like mules, forced to drink to the point of alcohol poisoning and more for years now, and sometimes death is the result. Well a lot of the time actually. Look up names like Carson Starkey, Michael Starks, Kenitha Saafir and Kristin High, Vann L. Watts, Michael Davis, Joseph Green–just to name a few names. While this might change the way FAMU and their band happen to do things, what’s it really going to take for students in these organizations and groups elsewhere to get the memo? If the death of someone innocent isn’t the glaring sign these students need, then what’s really left to get them to wake up?
How can schools step in more to stop hazing? Is it possible?
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