Families in a predominately white town in Colorado are outraged at their local school district for its lenient discipline of a middle school student who made a racist video where he said Black people “should not be alive.”
Despite the severity of the incident, the student, whose identity is protected because of his age, reportedly received a two-week suspension, a consequence viewed by some community members as insufficient and akin to a mere slap on the wrist.
The incident happened early in the school year, on Sept. 25, as students from the West Middle School in Greenwood Village, were on the school bus. The children gathered to listen to the child spew hate speech in a 26-second video.
“Black n—ers are cotton pickers,” the child said. “They should not be alive right now. I hate their skin color. I hate how they talk. They just stink up the room.”
The video, which was created outside of school, was shared in a group text with a group of students.
One parent of a Black child who was on that bus addressed the video, claiming that his language was violent and should have required more attention from school administrators, particularly since the student was back at the school.
“One of the students laughing sent the video to my child. It was a racist manifesto. My initial reaction when I saw the video was if I’m going to hear about a mass shooting. It seemed like a preamble to someone that would mass shoot up a school,” the father said in an interview with CBS News.
Additionally, he emphasized that the disciplinary measures should have been more stringent to impart a lasting lesson to the students that hate speech of any kind is wrong.
“These kids don’t understand the gravity because he pretty much just got a two-week vacation,” the parent continued.
While the parents stated that the student was suspended for two weeks, Cherry Creek School District did not detail what his discipline was. They also stated that due to the age of the multiple individuals involved and their privacy rights, they were unable to disclose specific details regarding the disciplinary measures taken by the CCSD.
According to CCSD, once they became aware of the “hate-filled” video, they “took swift action” and launched an investigation into the incident, calling the child’s behavior “unacceptable.”
“While this incident occurred off campus, we realized the potential impact this video would have on the student community,” said Lauren Snell, spokesperson for the district, according to 9 News.
The officials said that students “found to be responsible … faced significant discipline, and their parents were responsive to the severity of the situation.”
Dr. Vern L. Howard, chairman of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Colorado Holiday Commission, said more should have been done to inform the community about the video.
“With this kind of rhetoric there should have been district-wide email that went out to the parents letting them know that this threat or rhetoric existed and then how they handled it,” Howard said at a press conference about the incident.
The Rocky Mountain chapter of the NAACP has also strongly condemned the incident, emphasizing the need for law enforcement to treat it seriously. The civil rights organization called for both local and federal law enforcement agencies to intervene and investigate the incident as a crucial public safety measure.
“In a world where school shootings are the norm, this matter is serious and needs to be addressed immediately to prevent another mass school shooting like Columbine and many across the nation,” the organization said in a statement.
The chapter’s president, Portia Prescott, stated in a press conference that families in the area, where less than 2 percent of the population is Black and approximately 82 percent is white, are apprehensive. They fear that this incident and the child’s words may be indicative of potential violence against Black individuals in the community.
“The parents who have come to me are wondering if there are guns in the home,” Prescott said. “It’s a public safety issue.”
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