Police in Springfield, Missouri, have launched an investigation into a racist video by a Kickapoo High School student who used racial slurs and threatened to lynch Black students. Several organizations, including the Springfield NAACP, called on police to investigate the incident as a terrorist threat.
The 20-second Snapchat video, which was released on May 9, shows an unidentified white male student using profanity and racial slurs against his Black classmates, according to the Springfield News-Leader. The white student tells the Black students to “stay the [expletive] out of our locker room” and accuses them of stealing. He continues: “We should [expletive] lynch you.”
“It’s a privilege to be in our school,” he adds. “You [expletives] go around like you own the place.”
The video quickly made the rounds on social media and was condemned by Springfield Public Schools, Missouri’s largest public school district. In a statement to The North Star, Springfield Public Schools (SPS) spokesman Stephen Hall said it applied the maximum level of discipline allowed under the district’s handbook.
Under Missouri law, the district is not allowed to say what disciplinary actions were taken, the statement said. Nevertheless, the punishment was described as “significant and appropriate.” The school’s student handbook says that threats of violence at the high school level will result in a 10-day out-of-school suspension plus a hearing to discuss extending the suspension for up to 180 days, the Springfield News-Leader reported.
Hall told The North Star that school police conducted an initial investigation before referring the case to the Springfield Police Department. Springfield PD confirmed they were investigating, but did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The incident was reported to the Children’s Division of the Missouri Department of Social Services, and the district reached out to community partners like the NAACP. Hall said the district also provided counselors for students and family members.
“We acknowledge the pain, fear, and anger that racism and bigotry have caused for our students and their families,” Hall said. “We seek to learn more about individual experiences and understand them more deeply, and we offer our unyielding support and steadfast resolve to address these complex issues.”
Hall continued: “Our message remains clear: We are in this together; we will not tolerate racism, bigotry, or disrespect in any form; and we will speak out against inappropriate behavior and take necessary action in support of our students at every opportunity. Moving forward as a community, we must remain focused on collaborating to build a stronger culture of inclusivity that supports all students.”
Springfield NAACP President Toni Robinson told the Springfield News-Leader that the video took her breath away. “You’re not surprised but the trauma, the feeling, the emotion that we’ve been experiencing for generations is relived in that moment,” Robinson said.
In a statement to The North Star, Robinson said the organization will hold Springfield Police accountable to a thorough investigation and will also hold SPS accountable to abide by its disciplinary policy over the threats made.
She told the Springfield News-Leader that parents and students were outraged, upset, and scared. Robinson reported that student athletes now want to know what they should do in the locker room.
“We will begin gathering the stories of students, parents, and community members who want to share their stories of racism and bullying [by] SPS,” Robinson told The North Star. “We hope that this will gather and empower the community, and bring the issues of racism to the forefront.”
Kickapoo High School dealt with another incident of bullying and discrimination in April. A student reportedly ripped a poster from the school’s Gay Straight Trans Alliance off the wall and threw it into the school’s commons area. A second poster was taken down less than a week later, two days before the school observed the national Day of Silence, which raises awareness about the bullying of LGBTQ students.
About the Author
Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.