FAMU Marching 100 Return

The Marching 100 returned yesterday to a Half Time show between FAMU and Mississippi Valley State. It’s reputation as one of the elite Marching Band units at the College level is sadly tarnished, and it’s reputation as an HBCU tradition is at it’s lowest point. Hopefully the new School President, Band Leader, and students can return the unit, and the traditions it represented before the scandal back to the heights the band once enjoyed.

FAMU band makes first appearance in nearly two years after hazing incident

Twenty-two months after Florida A&M University’s band was suspended in the wake of a hazing death of a drum major, it was back on the field Saturday, performing at the season-opener against Mississippi Valley State.

The Marching 100 was not allowed to perform after Robert Champion collapsed and died after a hazing ritual on a bus in November 2011. That suspension was lifted in June, after the resignation of the band’s longtime director and the university president.

The scandal resulted in charges of manslaughter and felony hazing being placed against 15 former band members. Seven have made plea deals, another has a deal but has not been sentenced and the other seven await trial, according to the Associated Press.

The parents of the hazing victim, who have filed wrongful death lawsuits against FAMU and the bus company, told the AP that they believed the return of the band was “too soon.”

“I don’t see anything that’s different to ensure the safety of those students,” Pam Champion said. “Everything that has been put in place is not something that was done voluntarily.”

Larry Robinson, the university’s interim president, announced the decision to strike up the band, saying it would be “a model of excellence for other bands across this nation. It will actually focus on its founding principles of character, academics, leadership, marching and service.”

On Saturday, the band was back on the field at Orlando’s Citrus Bowl.

FAMU Marching 100 Suspended…

It appears that the consequences of the hazing scandal at FAMU are beginning to mount up…

Famed FAMU marching band suspended another year

Florida A&M University’s famed marching band is being suspended for at least one more school year as officials try to cleanse the hazing culture that led to the death of a drum major, the school’s president said Monday.

FAMU President James Ammons said the Marching 100 should stay off the field at least until a new band director is hired and new rules for the band have been adopted.

Eleven FAMU band members face felony charges in the November hazing death of Robert Champion, while two others face misdemeanor counts. The band has been banned from performing since soon after he died, and band director Julian White recently retired after it was revealed that at least 100 band members were not students when Champion died.

“There is no question the band must be restructured, there are measures we feel we must take,” Ammons said.

Ammons was already under pressure from many state officials — including Gov. Rick Scott — to keep the Marching 100 sidelined until other ongoing investigations into the band are completed.

The Marching 100 has had a rich history, performing at Super Bowls and in inauguration parades. The band has been one of the main draws during FAMU football games, and some board members on Monday wanted to know if the decision to keep the band off the field until 2013 would impact ticket sales.

But several trustees told Ammons on Monday that they supported his decision to keep the band suspended.

Travis Roberts, a 25-year-old clarinet player from Fort Lauderdale who has been on the band four years, said he also agreed with the decision. Roberts, who said he has never been hazed because he chose not to be, wants to make sure the university takes real steps toward addressing the issue.

“What do we do in that one year process to make sure these things do not happen again?” Roberts asked. “We lack consistency at times, and this is something that needs to change. … No one has taken accountability for what has happened. This thing didn’t start only five years ago. This thing has happened the past 50 years.” Continue reading

13 Charged in FAMU Hazing Death

About time…

13 charged in hazing death of FAMU drum major

Thirteen people have been charged with hazing crimes in the beating death of Florida A&M University drum major Robert Champion, a Florida prosecutor said Wednesday.

State Attorney Lawson Lamar said 11 people are accused of death with hazing, a third-degree felony punishable by up to six years for defendants with no criminal record. Two defendants face misdemeanor charges in the November death aboard a band bus in Orlando.

The state also has filed 20 counts of misdemeanor hazing against others in unrelated incidents. Lamar declined to identifiy those charged because they are in multiple jurisdictions and have not yet been arrested.

“I have come to believe that hazing is a form of bullying,” Lamar said at a news conference in Orlando. “It’s bullying with a tradition.”

Champion, 26, was a member of FAMU’s internationally renowned marching band, the Marching 100, which has a history of hazing incidents. He died after being beaten in what prosecutors said was a hazing ritual on a band bus following a football game Nov. 19.

Champion’s mother, Pam Champion, said she was hoping for charges that could bring longer sentences so that her son’s death would become a cautionary tale for students and administrators around the nation.

“I’m a little disappointed that it wasn’t a harsher penalty considering the case,” she said in a phone interview fromNorth Carolina, where she’s attending a seminar. “We are hoping to use this case to try to end hazing.

Pam Champion, whose family founded the non-profit Robert D. Champion Drum Major for Change Foundation to combat hazing, said she and her family will work to get a federal anti-hazing law passed. “We need a federal law in place with harsh and stiff penalties to deter this. We need to educate our students to the consequences,” she said.

In December, the state medical examiner’s office deemed Champion’s death a homicide resulting from multiple blows to his body so severe that he bled out into his soft tissue. There were no signs of drugs or alcohol in his body.

“This is a homicide by hazing,” Lamar said. He urged anyone with additional information in the case to come forward.

Douglas Fierberg, a Washington, D.C., lawyer and expert on hazing who has represented hazing victims in civil cases for 15 years, said he knows of no other hazing case that resulted in so many people facing criminal charges. He said Florida’s relatively stiff anti-hazing laws could result in jail time.

Fierberg said that would be a departure from what usually happens in hazing cases.

“Florida has a serious, comprehensive law on hazing,” he said. “Ideally, it would be fully expected to bring justice to the family, including jail time.”

Champion’s death touched off a series of criminal and administrative inquires into hazing on FAMU’s campus in Tallahassee and led to the indefinite suspension of the famed Marching 100 and its longtime director, Julian White. It also sparked a rancorous fight between Gov. Rick Scott and the university’s board of trustees that threatened the administration of President James Ammons.

Champion’s parents have filed a lawsuit against the bus company and sent FAMU a state-required six-month notice of their intent to sue for their son’s wrongful death.

FAMU Marching 100 – Something Rotten in Florida

WTF is the deal with this violent hazing crap? These kids are going way overboard and seriously injuring their fellow band mates, sorority sisters and brothers and initiates. This isn’t fun – it isn’t a “rite of passage” and it damn sure doesn’t reflect on any o the values of the organizations involved.

FAMU band.jpg

FAMU Marching 100 Rocked by Hazing Scandals

4 Florida A&M band members arrested for hazing beatings

Four members of the Florida A&M marching band were arrested Friday and charged with hazing.

Pictures: Florida A&M University hazing scandal

Florida A&M University hazing scandal

FAMU Drum Major Robert Champion Died After Hazing Beating

According to police records, pledges of the band club for clarinet players known as the Clones were punched or paddled while they played music during a hazing initiation.

The four students arrested are: Denise Bailey, 22; Brandon Benson, 23; Hakeem Birch, 21 and Anthony Mingo, 22. They were booked on a misdemeanor hazing charge and released on bail.

The arrests are the latest fallout from a scandal that has rocked the university. In November, FAMU drum major Robert Champion died hours after the Florida Classic football game in Orlando in what authorities said was a hazing ritual. His death has been ruled a homicide, but no charges have been brought.

The 26-year-old drum major suffered blunt trauma blows to his body while he was aboard a bus and died from shock caused by severe bleeding.

Friday’s charges are not related to Champion’s death, but to “three or four initiation meetings” that began around Sept. 1 in a house about a mile from campus. Five pledges to the Clones were lined up and “forced to exercise, play music, and were either punched, prepped (slapped with both hands on back) and/or paddled,” police said.

One of the pledges took photos of her bruises and quit after the first meeting.

During the initiations, pledges were forced to give money and were pressured to keep exercising “even after exhaustion.”

FAMU president James Ammons originally fired band director Julian White after Ammons said he failed to report hazing he knew about. White, who is now on administrative leave, denies that he didn’t do enough.

White previously provided copies to The Associated Press of letters that he sent to the newly arrested students Hakeem Birch and Anthony Mingo in November, saying he was suspending them until a hazing investigation by university police was finished.

In December, three band members were charged with hazing after allegedly beating pledge Bria Shante Hunter’s legs with fists and a metal ruler to initiate her into the “Red Dawg Order,” a band clique for students who hail from Georgia. According to CBS Miami, the beating was so severe Hunter suffered a broken thigh bone and blood clots in her legs.

The Board of Governors – which oversees the state’s 11 public universities – launched an investigation in November into whether FAMU officials ignored warnings about hazing. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement also is investigating the Marching 100’s finances.

Complete coverage of the Florida A&M hazing scandal on Crimesider

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