Students at Haywood High School in Brownsville, Tenn., staged a walkout on Monday after it became public knowledge that black students were the target of racist threats made by other students.
WREG-TV reports that a student at the school contacted the news station and detailed how members of the baseball team posted threatening, horrible messages on social media, including messages about “stringing a nigger up.”
“I mean we can find one black guy and make an example for sure,” another message quipped.
About 200 students participated in a sit-in at the school before several students walked out of the building, although they remained on school property.
“Today we all come together to fight against racism,” Malik Green, a student at the school who helped organize the protest, told the news station. “We just can’t stand for it anymore and we needed to take action.”
Students accused administrators of not taking appropriate action in the case, only ordering the students behind the horrible messages to write a 10-page paper as punishment even though school rules mandate that death threats be punished by expulsion, according to the Jackson Sun.
“They tried to sweep it under the rug,” Green said.
Haywood County School Superintendent Joey Hassell released a statement saying that the situation was being looked into.
“I have also been in communication with Chief Diebold and he has consulted with the District Attorney’s office on the content of the message. Based on review of the DA’s office, it is my understanding that there will be no criminal charges; however, the school district will review the findings of the HHS investigation and determine what actions will be taken. A thorough review will occur,” the statement read. “Our job is to educate and protect all students. Hatred, racism, and bigotry have no place in our school district.”
“We are completing a full investigation and will then take appropriate action based on the findings and following school board policy,” he later added.
By Tuesday it was announced that Haywood High School’s principal and assistant principal would both be suspended pending the outcome of the investigation, the Sun notes.
Associate Superintendent and Chief Student Services Officer for Haywood Schools Art Garrett praised the students for their stance on the matter, saying, “We’ve listened to their concerns, and we’re investigating the incident. ... But I’m proud of our students for protesting peacefully and exercising their right to do so.”
All five schools in the Haywood County school system will continue as scheduled, and the high school will be having classes as normal; however, students who still wish to protest are being allowed the platform to do so with no repercussions, according to the Sun.
“We asked them to come in and check in at home room, and then whatever happened after that was up to them,” Garrett said. “That’s their right, and they can do it without any penalty from us.”
Garrett declined to name the baseball students involved in the racist chat or discuss any punishments that may be handed down.