Five Florida middle school students have been charged with hate crimes for allegedly participating in a “racially motivated crime,” reported NBC News. They are facing battery charges after attacking a group of white students and spouting racial slurs.
Per NBC’s report, four white children between 11 and 12 years old were punched and kicked by a group of Lyons Creek Middle School students Wednesday morning. The incident occurred across the street from the school at the Coconut Creek Recreation center.
According to the arrest reports, the students approached the victims, yelled “It’s Opposite Day!” and “brown power!” and beat them. The arrest reports noted that the comments were made before and during the alleged attack.
The student said that he was approached by a group of kids unprovoked who said to him, “You are white,” the arrest report said. He was then tackled to the ground by one student, which “subsequently allowed the group of the middle school kids to start hitting him with their hands, feet and phone chargers,” according to the report.
“After they jumped me, they said, this is, like, revenge for what they did in the 1700s for slavery,” said the child via NBC.
The school district has since responded in a statement saying they will work to provide a “safe and secure learning environment” and “ensure that any off-campus incidents do not impact students at the middle school,” per NBC’s report. However, one of the parents of the victims believes the school can’t do much because the incident didn’t happen on school property.
Police, however, moved swiftly to arrest four of the five students. The four have been charged with battery and evidence of prejudice while committing a battery, a hate crime, reported NBC. Police say they will work with school officials to make sure the “suspects are appropriately dealt with.”