In mid-January, a Black West Sylvan Middle School student was forced to the ground and knelt on by two students who said they would “George Floyd” him. Portland Public Schools Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero and the school board apologized a couple weeks too late for a despicable racist attack, per Oregon Public Radio.
The boy’s father, Raheem Alexzander, said his son was just going to get a drink from the water fountain when two other students pushed him up against a wall, bound his hands behind his back and threatened to essentially kill him the way we saw Floyd die. The students pushed the boy to the ground, knelt on his back and pretended to be the Minneapolis police saying they “turned off their body cameras” and “waited 20 seconds.”
“It’s extremely shocking. This is an unimaginable act of hate that happened to my son and something needs to happen and we need some answers. We need some answers from the school district,” said Alexzander to KOIN 6 News.
At some point, you have to wonder what kind of household allowed two pre-teens to think mocking the murder of a Black man was something to reenact with their peers. The middle school announced the two students were disciplined (which was probably a suspension at most but also “anti-racist” teaching). Alexzander hopes that raising awareness of the incident will cause ripples across all district schools to encourage everyone to participate in a conversation and ensure this doesn’t happen again.
Be forreal, though. This is probably not the first racist incident this district has seen.
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Read more from Oregon Public Radio:
According to media reports, district officials told Alexzander that broader notice could interfere with investigations and possibly violate federal law governing student privacy. Top leaders at PPS admitted in their message Friday night that the initial response was inadequate.
“We also apologize to the entire African American community for not alerting all students and families in Portland Public Schools of this hate and bias incident that was experienced by one of our PPS students,” the message said.
The district leaders pledged a “zero tolerance approach” to racist behavior. “It is unacceptable anywhere in Portland Public Schools. Wherever racism rears its head in PPS, it will be dealt with swiftly and decisively. We do not, and will not, tolerate racism,” the districtwide letter said.
The district said it should have notified the entire school district of the incident. “This incident deserved to be raised to our broader community. Doing so would have been consistent with our commitment to teaching, modeling, and living by antiracist values.”