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Man faces charges over nooses on truck at Jena march

  • Story Highlights
  • Louisiana resident, 18, faces federal hate-crime, conspiracy charges
  • Driver allegedly taunted civil rights marchers with nooses on pickup truck
  • Marchers were protesting handling of several racially charged incidents
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A man has been indicted on federal charges for allegedly displaying hangman's nooses from the back of a pickup truck during a civil rights march last year in Jena, Louisiana.

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A photo taken by I-Reporter Casanova Love shows a noose hanging from a pickup in Alexandria, Louisiana.

Jeremiah Munsen, 18, of Grant Parish, repeatedly drove slowly past a group of marchers gathered at a bus depot in Alexandria, which is near Jena, as they awaited buses to return them to Tennessee, federal authorities said Thursday.

As many as 20,000 marchers had taken part in the huge protests in Jena. Authorities there had been accused of injustice in the handling of racially charged cases, including the hanging of nooses in a tree after a group of black high school students sat in an area where traditionally only white students sat.

The noose incident at Jena was the beginning of months of racial tension that included the beating of a white student, allegedly by six black classmates. The black students were prosecuted, but the three white students responsible for the nooses in the tree were not.

Munsen and an unnamed conspirator had attached nooses to their pickup on September 20 and driven to Alexandria specifically to threaten and intimidate the marchers, the authorities said. Photo View a series of photos of the truck »

A juvenile passenger was apprehended with Munsen, according to the arresting officer's report.

The juvenile told police he and his family are in the Ku Klux Klan and that he had "KKK" tattooed on his chest, the police report said. He also said that he tied the nooses and that brass knuckles found in the truck belonged to him, the report said.

"This indictment accuses the defendant [Munsen] of conduct that constitutes a federal civil rights conspiracy violation and a federal hate crime," said U.S. Attorney Donald Washington.

Washington and Grace Chung Becker, acting head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, announced the indictment, issued by a grand jury in Shreveport, Louisiana.

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A photograph of the truck was sent to CNN by I-Reporter Casanova Love, 26, who said he is in the U.S. military. He was visiting his family in Louisiana and said he witnessed the event.

Love added, "If the police had not stepped in, I fear what might have happened." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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