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