The father of a Chesapeake, Va., high school student wants the student accused of assaulting his child to be charged with a hate crime.
Sean Watt told WAVY-TV Monday, Jan. 7, that his son’s alleged assaulter being charged with simple battery wasn’t enough to speak to the way his son was targeted in December.
“My son shouldn’t have to deal with this,” Watt said of the fallout over the incident. The altercation occurred while his son was in guitar class at Grassfield High School before winter break last month.
“There was a student there and he was talking about he was part of the KKK,” he says. Watts noted the classmate was holding a rope and followed up the statement by saying a racial slur. According to his son’s statement, it was “f— n—ers.”
“My son approached him and was like ‘you need to chill or relax,'” Watt recalls. “The student hit him with the rope first and then my son grabbed him and you know, he put him down and then he left him alone. When he turned around to walk away, that’s when the rope came around his neck.”
Watt’s son said in a statement that after that he yanked the rope from his neck and threw it after tearing the buttons off his classmate’s shirt. He went and sat down on the opposite side of the room before asking to go to the chorus room. He informed the chorus instructor about what happened, and both boys were ultimately sent to the office.
“They told me they were proud of the way my son handled himself,” Watt said of what school administrators said upon getting in touch with him.
Although police charged the student with simple assault and battery on Dec. 18, Watt is upset about the charge not being harsher and reflective of the racism involved.
“If that isn’t a hate crime, what happened, then I don’t know what is,” Watt says. “The only way I feel that racism can be eradicated, you have to confront it and call it what it is.”
Watt also expressed confusion over why the teacher apparently did not see what happened. He also said he was concerned that the student “might try to come back and be upset at my son.”
A statement from the Chesapeake school district said they are aware of the incident and have “taken appropriate action.” However, they are “unable to comment on individual student discipline.”
As for the teacher who Watt had questions about, it’s unclear if any disciplinary action has been taken against them. The father is planning to circle back to the Commonwealth Attorney’s office to see if the student will be charged with a hate crime.
The Grassfield High incident occurred just one day after a student at Chesapeake Bay Middle in Maryland found a noose made of a sweatshirt hanging in a stairwell.