DENVER (KDVR) — The Rocky Mountain NAACP is calling for local, state and federal investigations to be launched after a student at West Middle School in the Cherry Creek School District was captured on video during an anti-Black rant.
According to the civil rights organization, the white middle-schooler recorded a video off school property using slurs and anti-Black stereotypes as well as threatening to kill Black people. The video first came to light on Sept. 25, when a student saw the video being shared by classmates on a school bus.
“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 Rocky Mountain NAACP stated in a news release.
The organization further argued that the student’s statement of “they should not be alive right now” resembles language used by well-known American mass shooters and referenced Dylann Roof. Roof was convicted of shooting and killing nine African American members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015.
There are also claims that some students were handing out laminated “Black card passes,” which would give them permission to use the N-word. The Cherry Creek School District said they are aware of the situation and those who were involved faced discipline and families were spoken with.
Student who reported video gets bullied
The Rocky Mountain NAACP shared that on Sept. 26, the student who saw the video being shared on the bus came into direct contact with the student who made the racist video. The video maker did not apologize for his words, the NAACP said.
After this, the reporting student began to have nightmares and said they didn’t feel safe at school or on the school bus with the offending student and supporters around.
The Rocky Mountain NAACP further shared that since the video began to circulate, classmates have begun to send the reporting student pictures of minors’ genitalia, which could violate child pornography laws.
A mother of a reporting student also reported receiving threatening messages and reported criminal conduct to the Greenwood Village Police Department, including unsolicited pornographic text messages and possible hate crimes.
The NAACP said its goal is to protect students at West Middle School and called for a full investigation by Greenwood Village Police, the FBI and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. The organization said that the Cherry Creek School District and West Middle School administrators have “done nothing to protect all their students.”
Greenwood Village Police investigate, no charges filed
The Greenwood Village Police Department said that officers initiated an investigation into a report of a possible bias-motivated crime for harassment involving students at West Middle School. However, after the investigation, no criminal charges were filed due to a lack of evidence to support that a crime had been committed.
That mother wants to remain anonymous due to safety concerns but did send a statement to FOX31’s Talya Cunningham. She is demanding transparency and said her child and other students of color do not feel safe.
“Navigating this threatening situation reveals a significant challenge, with the school intensifying your child’s distress through cultural insensitivity and blatant disregard. The incident is hastily dismissed, devoid of a nuanced recovery plan,” she said.
“The term ‘restorative justice’ is used loosely, fostering a culture at West Middle School that prioritizes a quick resolution,” the mother continued. “Principal (Monica) Garcia’s assurance that ‘your concerns have been addressed’ falls short, demanding a more profound acknowledgment and tangible actions. Updates are infrequent, and when queried, the response shifts to an inability to compel parental involvement, creating a communication gap.”
That mother went on to say the racist rhetoric and behavior of some West Middle students have escalated, and immediate action needs to be taken, which includes holding parents accountable. The mother said that in 2023, every student should be learning in a safe environment.
She said she’s worried about the possibility of the hate toward her child turning into a mass violence incident on school grounds.
Cherry Creek School District says it ‘took swift action’
In a statement to FOX31, the Cherry Creek School District stated it was notified of the racist video in late September.
“The language in the video is hate-filled and we took swift action to address this unacceptable behavior,” the district’s statement reads. “While this incident occurred off campus, we realized the potential impact this video would have on the student community.”
The district said the issue was “immediately” investigated by administration and law enforcement, and students faced “significant discipline,” while their parents were “responsive to the severity of the situation.”
A spokesperson for the school told FOX31 that due to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, specifics of the discipline can’t be disclosed. The spokesperson added that discipline plans are also created on a case-by-case basis.
West Middle School Principal Monica Garcia also sent an email to the school community on Sept. 29.
“In recent days, we have dealt with some incidents of racist speech at our school and in our community. This unacceptable behavior goes against our core values at West Middle School and throughout the Cherry Creek School District,” her letter stated.
Garcia encouraged guardians to “engage” children in conversations about discriminatory behavior and hate-motivated language. She also shared a UNICEF resource about how to talk to kids about racism.
According to the Colorado Department of Education’s SchoolView data center, there are about 1,062 students attend West Middle School. The department also reports that of the Cherry Creek School District’s almost 53,000 students, over 27,000 identify as a minority race or ethnicity — including over 6,000 Black students.