A community in Colorado is raising hell after a middle school student shared a video with classmates about how Black people “should not be alive right now,” raising concern among families about a possible increase in racial violence among school-aged children.
In a statement issued to families from the Cherry Creek School District, which is within the Denver metro-area, a West Middle School student made a racist video outside of school and shared it in a group message. The district said it took immediate action after the video was shared in September and contacted law enforcement.
“Students found to be responsible for engaging in this kind of behavior faced serious disciplinary repercussions,” read the school’s statement, forwarded to The Daily Beast. “Due to the privacy rights of students, we cannot discuss specifics of discipline.”
However, Black leaders and residents are outraged that two months after the video first surfaced that the student who recorded the video has not been expelled, according to ABC Denver.
The student was recorded going on a vile racist tirade for nearly 30 seconds.
“I hate Black n—–s. Black n—–s are cotton pickers,” the student in the video said, CBS Colorado reported. “They should not be alive right now. I hate their skin color. I hate how they talk. They just stink up the room.”
Local outlet Fox Denver reported that the student, who is white, also hurled a string of anti-Black stereotypes.
“[The district] is also concerned with people resharing the video because it is very traumatic,” Cherry Creek Chief Communications Officer Abbe Smith told The Daily Beast Thursday. “We don’t want it to retraumatize students who were impacted who saw it in the first place.”
Members of the NAACP Rocky Mountain Chapter held a news conference in front of West Middle School on Wednesday, slamming the administration for not taking action sooner and saying it is part of a larger problem.
“This is not an isolated incident,” NAACP Rocky Mountain Chapter President Portia Prescott said. “This is a state problem.”
Prescott said multiple families had contacted her, upset with how the district handled the situation, explaining to NBC News Denver that many were concerned about whether the child’s parents had firearms in their home.
“It is a public safety issue right now,” she said.
The video gained traction on Sept. 25 when students shared it with one another during a bus ride, CBS reported.
“The Cherry Creek School District does not tolerate hate of any kind in our schools and realize the trauma and pain these situations cause our students and their families,” a statement from Cherry Creek School District Superintendent Christopher Smith read. “We take this seriously and offer support to impacted students and families. Racism is a societal issue that spills into schools and any time we receive a report of a racist incident impacting a school, we address it with urgency.”
The district added that it will continue working with its local chapter of the NAACP and its “partners to combat hate and ensure all students feel safe and supported in schools.”
In a follow-up email sent Sept. 29, West Middle School Principal Mónica García confirmed that there were “some incidents of racist speech at our school and in our community.”
“Whenever we receive a report of hate-motivated behavior, we thoroughly investigate the incident and take appropriate disciplinary action against the student or students found to be responsible,” she wrote. “At West Middle School, we celebrate diversity as an asset that strengthens our school and community. I value your partnership in creating a safe and inclusive learning environment, and I welcome any questions or concerns you may have.”
However, a mother of a student who reported the video told Fox that racial harassment has increased and students of color don’t 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. “Principal Garcia’s assurance that ‘your concerns have been addressed’ falls short. …Updates are infrequent, and when queried, the response shifts to an inability to compel parental involvement, creating a communication gap.”
The NAACP is calling on local police, the FBI, and state bureau of investigation to look into the incident.