A Kentucky middle school is the site of a potential hate crime after a white student strangled and assaulted a Black student in the school’s bathroom. Video of the incident captures racial slurs being used as the attacker places the child in a chokehold until he loses consciousness.
The six-second video also recorded other students laughing at the African-American child as he went limp.
Criminal charges have been filed on the aggressive juvenile after footage of the violent incident went viral, the IB Time reports. The teen has been charged with fourth-degree assault and felony strangulation.
On Monday, April 25, Liberty Police Chief Steven Garrett stated detectives are looking for more videos outside of the one shared on social media, of the assault which happened on Friday, April 22, at the Casey County Middle School. He also noted that the young person’s case will not be handled in an adult court but under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court system and will not be public record.
The school immediately responded to the video, posting on Facebook a day after the altercation a statement saying they were in communication with the parents and “no further information can be released due to all parties involved being juveniles, and the investigation is still ongoing.”
The county’s resource officer, Jordon Buis, suggested the campus administration did not know the severity of the altercation until the video surfaced online and they were notified.
He said, “I think it was reported by school staff that it was kind of a horseplay incident, and then once the video surfaced later it was discovered it was quite a bit more than that.”
“Stuff like this, personally, I am not going to tolerate it when it is known. I mean, of course, teachers and I can’t be everywhere at any given time,” he continued. “And with that being in the bathroom made it extra difficult, too.”
“If anything, criminal happens it is going to be dealt with and we have several times in the past and this incident is no different as far as doing criminal charges,” the official promised.
Buis later said, “Every school deals with fights and altercations. Every one of them is different. I can’t say I have had a situation with strangulation at the school. That’s definitely a first. With criminal charges, it is my understanding that any type of stuff like that is added on in the sentencing phase later in court.”
Dontashia Southerland, the victim’s sister, who revealed she has had her own encounters with racism within the Casey County School District, said she was “disgusted” by the incident.
“I was absolutely disgusted,” Southerland said to local station Lex18. “How are you gonna let something like that go on?”
“There’s been multiple times where it’s been racist and I’ve been attacked and, I’ve been told that, ‘it’s fine just don’t do it again, just give them like a pat on the back don’t do it again,'” the sibling remembered.
She said their father, who died shortly before this incident, used to talk to them about racism. The big sister said once her brother, whose name is withheld because he is a minor, “jokingly called him the n-word, and dad goes that’s not a joke.”
The superintendent Barry Lee disagrees and says his administration is committed to making all schools in their network a safe space, stating “the behavior that occurred in the video will not be tolerated.”
“The school administrators and the School Resource Officer (SRO) took immediate action, but we must continue to be proactive in helping our students to understand that this is not acceptable behavior in our schools or in our communities.”
Lee went on to assert, “the focus now is a unified effort to continue reinforcing the core values and school-wide expectations for students to be respectful, show integrity, have a safe learning environment, and excel in every aspect of being a successful student.”
The sister said her family is still moving forward with legal action. They also said they are considering changing schools, and finding a safer space for the learner.
“We all deserve to be treated the same,” Southerland said. “No one should be able to get more than the other person. No one should be able to get treated just because of the skin… color of their skin, than the other person.”
“And it’s just something that shouldn’t be done.”