Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Champion’s parents grasping at straws in their venting against Young, Demings

Attorney Christopher Chestnut fell flat when he tried to smear the work that Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings and his deputies did to investigate the hazing death of FAMU drum major Robert Champion, Jr.

Chestnut’s clients, Champion’s mother and father, are now directing a round of venting against Sylvester Young. FAMU just selected Young to rebuild the university band that has been on suspension since Champion died.

According to the Orlando Sentinel: “In an interview with the Orlando Sentinel, Robert and Pamela Champion also questioned why Florida A&M University hired a new band director who acknowledged he was hazed while he was a FAMU student.”

“I just don’t feel like anything has changed,” she told the newspaper. “We’re looking out for the safety of students.”

FOX 5 in Atlanta aired a video in which Champion’s mother added more negative comments.

“I don’t know Mr. Young at all,” she said. “But my thought is the culture of that band and the hazing and the things that have been going on for years that has been just let go…He too admit that he was a product of being hazed at FAMU, as well.”

Young admitted that back when he was a member of the Marching 100, upperclassmen bullied him out of a hotel room during an out-of-town game in Miami and told him to take off a pair of red socks he had worn.

The Champions are grasping at straws. They haven’t been able to find any record of Young being soft on hazing in any of the three collegiate bands he’s led during his career. That's because Young was a tough disciplinarian and kept students safe while directing the bands at Lincoln University, Hampton University, and Ohio University.

So the only criticism they can bring up against Young is that he was a victim of hazing. The fact that Young was a hazing victim doesn’t make him unfit to direct a band. That’s a lot like saying a person is unfit to become a police officer simply because he or she was previously a victim of burglary.

Young should follow Demings’ lead by refusing to let the very personal attacks from the Champion family discourage him. Even though Chestnut said Demings’ investigation “was botched from Day 1,” Orange County voters reelected the incumbent sheriff to another four year term.

Demings’ investigation concluded that Champion “willingly participated” in the illegal hazing ritual that left him dead. He continues to stand by those investigation results despite the fact that Champion’s parents still refuse to believe that their son asked to be hazed.

If Young simply does his new job with the type of class and skill that Demings has displayed while performing his public duty, then the Champion family’s PR campaign against him will also go nowhere.

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