A Utah school district says it’s taking “appropriate discipline” against two high school students seen posing for a racist photo posted to social media earlier this month.
The picture, shared on Snapchat, shows the two high school students in partial blackface as someone in a Ku Klux Klan-style hood holds them by their necks. A Confederate flag is also seen hanging in the background.
“N—– hunting 2019: I’m glad I could fill my tags this year,” the caption read.
The students in question attend Hurricane High School in the town of Hurricane in rural Utah, local station KUTV 2 confirmed. School officials described the third person involved as a “non-student adult.”
District leaders were quick to condemn the racist photo, which sent shock waves across the local school community.
“Words of disgust and sadness are insufficient to describe our feelings regarding the image that was brought to our attention the evening of May 16,” Steve Dunham, spokesman for the local Washington County School District, said in a statement. “This repulsive photo does not represent the concern, love and care of” our district.
Dunham argued that although the incident didn’t occur on campus, that also didn’t minimize the district’s “abhorrence of this racist act.”
An investigation into the incident is underway, and the district, wh has since called on local police to review the matter.
In a memo posted to Facebook last Friday, the Hurricane Police Department confirmed it was looking into the photo and said while it does not condone such behavior, it was also “aware of individuals’ rights to free speech.” The department also asked social media users not to share the hurtful image.
“The incident is being investigated at this time. If you have seen this post PLEASE DO NOT share or retweet, by doing so all you are doing is helping spread this hurtful message further.”
“At the conclusion of the investigation, the appropriate action will be taken,” it concluded.
Several Hurricane students have also spoken out against the racist post, saying they can’t believe someone would do something so despicable just days before graduation at the school, which has a student body of less than 0.5 percent Blacks.
“It’s just cruel,” junior Abbie Hermansen told ABC4. “People that do stuff like this, all they want is attention.”
Hermansen also said she’s torn when sharing the post in hopes of raising awareness of racism and fears she’s also helping to spread hate.
“You want to get the word out to say, ‘This is unacceptable and shouldn’t be happening,’ but then you’re giving them exactly what they want,” she added.
District leaders are still determining if further action can be taken against the students involved, although their initial punishments remain unclear.
“No level of discipline can repair the hate, bigotry and ugliness portrayed in that one picture,” Dunham said in a statement. “The vulgar ignorance and idiocy on display are beyond repair by any small discipline we can provide.”
“While we’re sickened by this photo, we will move forward with love as we further educate our students,” he added.
Moreover, school officials said they’re considering how to better help students understand civil rights and appropriate social media behavior.
The two students and the adult involved remain unnamed.
Watch more in the video below.