A college prep academy in Atlanta has indefinitely suspended several students seen in a social media video pretending to lynch a Black classmate in one of the school’s restrooms.
Cristo Rey Atlanta Jesuit High School president Bill Garrett condemned the disturbing clip, which started circulating among students and parents this week and also was posted online.
“We had an unfortunate and reprehensible incident this week that involved a number of our students,” Garrett said in a statement obtained by Atlanta Black Star. “This type of behavior will not be tolerated. The students are on indefinite suspension as we do a comprehensive investigation of the situation and determine an appropriate course of action.”
The grainy video, obtained by Atlanta station WGCL-TV CBS 46, shows several male students with their heads and faces wrapped in white paper towels and only their eyes showing. Meanwhile, the Black student, who’s Ethiopian, stands with the tissue paper wrapped around his neck then tied to a bathroom stall.
A concerned parent who reported the video to school officials said it was filmed by another Black student who walked in on the incident and shared the video with his parents.
In a letter sent to the school community, Cristo Rey officials decried the “extremely shocking and appalling incident,” adding that it had met with the students involved and would make counselors available to speak with anyone impacted by the offensive video. Cristo Rey, according to staff, is 56 percent Latino, 40 percent Black, 2 percent Asian and 2 percent Caucasian.
Student Kenidee Barkley told CBS 46 the video left her feeling a bit uneasy.
“‘Very shocking and disheartening to know that somebody I sit next to in class, somebody who I present my projects with, somebody who I talk to on a daily basis at lunch … the fact that you feel this way towards me,” said Barkley.
Schoolmate William Bradley agreed, saying the school wasn’t doing enough to address racist incidents.
“I think the racial discrimination that plays a part in this world definitely made its way into Cristo Rey,” he said. “You see that in the video, and we see that walking up and down the stairs every day.”
An investigation into the video is ongoing.
Civil Rights leader and former Atlanta mayor Andrew Young is planning to speak to the student body, and the school reportedly is working with the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in the creation of an educational program.