A Connecticut high school student was arrested by the Fairfield Police Department and faces multiple charges after he reportedly made a racist post on social media targeting a 16-year-old Black classmate.
Jamar Medor, a 16-year-old student at Fairfield Warde High School, didn’t learn that he’s been the target of a racist post shared to Snapchat until a classmate brought it to his attention.
The image was taken from behind Medor, who was sitting in his homeroom class on May 7. A red circle was been drawn around him and there are two captions on the photo. The first questions, “Why is there a n-gger in my homeroom?” The second caption says, “Why is he not in chains?”
In a statement, Fairfield Warde Principal Paul Cavanna said “discrimination in any form is not tolerated.”
“We strongly believe that racism has no place here or anywhere in our society,” he wrote. “We are working to support those who have been affected by this reprehensible act.”
After the post was reported to Cavanna, Medor was called to his office. There the teen called his mother, Judith Medor.
“When I saw the post, I was really in a state of shock,” she told CNN. “I didn’t know what to say, I didn’t know where to begin.”
State’s Attorney Joseph T. Corradino confirmed that the student who posted the photo, also 16, was arrested. He has been charged with breach of peace, and “ridicule on account of creed, religion, color, denomination, nationality or race,” a misdemeanor specific to Connecticut.
The arrest of the student has also sparked a discussion about free speech. The misdemeanor state hate crime charge the student was arrested on dates back to a 1917 law that some say infringes on First Amendment rights.
The ACLU of Connecticut suggested that the school’s handling of the incident was based on “likely unconstitutional laws” and encouraged schools to emphasize restorative justice practices and to pursue stopping hate and violence at the root.
“Having racist ideas or sharing racist ideas is something that we actually protect,” Emerson Sykes, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s national chapter told the Hartford Courant. “Even if that viewpoint is offensive, even if it’s deplorable, we don’t want the government making the call about what’s OK to say and think and what is not. But we have limitations on that right.”
Judith Medor said to CNN she had been informed that the student who posted the photo was white and that he had been suspended and would probably be expelled. She says her other son, Jake, who attends a different high school in the district, received a FaceTime call after the post was made in which the caller called him the N-word and then hung up.
She met with school officials on May 17. Both teens have received police escorts to and from school and from class to class since the incident, but Jamar sometimes stays home because he does not feel safe. “Jamar has been having nightmares and doesn’t always feel comfortable in this school,” she said to CNN. “[The incident has gotten] too much attention. He gets many questions so he feels very overwhelmed and uncomfortable.”
Judith is considering sending Jamar and Jake to another high school her eldest son previously attended next school year.
Although she’s lived in Fairfield, which is just 3 percent Black, for 14 years, Judith said she never felt unsafe prior to the recent incidents. Now she’s considering installing a security system in her home. She said she blames the parents of the teen for his actions and told The Associated Press she believes the teen should be jailed for the post. “I have to blame the parents because that’s the way he’s probably been raised,” she said. “Racism has probably been taught in the home. He was not born racist. Racism is not genetic, that’s a behavior you learn. That’s my understanding of it. I have to blame the parents. They should be embarrassed and ashamed of themselves.”