A shocking video of a student dressed in a white hood and yelling racially derogatory slurs has emerged on social media. The Knoxville private school says it has taken “severe disciplinary action” against the students involved and “does not condone this behavior.”
According to WBIR, the students in the video shared on Wednesday, May 4, are from Grace Christian Academy. The learners allegedly filmed themselves emulating a meeting of one of the nation’s most vile terrorist groups, the Ku Klux Klan. As of reporting, logistical information about the video has not been released.
Officials have not disclosed the names of the students that participated in the clip, the location of the taping (whether it was on or off campus), nor how many people were involved.
One teen, presumably a male, enters the room wearing a hood with the eye holes cut out, carrying a wooden staff and a jug of cleaning solution. A metal folding chair with the school’s name on it, placed down by another student, sat in front of the door while music played in the background.
Once the disguised individual is sat down, he shouts out, “who do we hate?”
The response is the N-word.
Others are in the background giggling at the boy’s actions, as he repeats himself over and over again.
School officials were made aware of the video and sent several messages out to the community expressing how disturbed they were about the video.
In a message sent to local press and parents, the school said, “The leadership of Grace Baptist Church and Grace Christian Academy were made aware of an incident that occurred. We are taking appropriate disciplinary steps to address this issue.”
In the parent letter, the school added the incident “occurred with a small group of students” and asked for the community to remain in “prayer and partnership” with the institution.
According to the academy’s 80-page code of conduct handbook this type of behavior is not tolerated, “Grace Christian Academy is committed to providing an environment in which every student is treated as an image-bearer of God. Conduct, whether intentional or unintentional, that subjects another student to unwanted attention, comments or actions because of race, national origin, sex, physical characteristics or disability, robs the student of dignity and is not permitted.”
In the section that governs conduct on social media, the administration includes “expulsion” as a consequence for originally creating, posting, or sharing content that does not reflect the school’s anti-hate values.
“Any illegal, disrespectful, obscene, or inflammatory language or media, ethnic or racial slurs, bullying, harassment or defamation, or other similar content posted or sent online will result in disciplinary action up to and including expulsion.”
Making this incident even more complicated, students are not allowed to film (video or still) on campus. If this mock Klan meeting was filmed on campus, according to the handbook the students would have violated three major rules: racist conduct, negative social media, and filming on school grounds.
The Head of School Dr. Tony Pointer posted a public statement on Facebook and read in part:
“Immediately upon being made aware of an extremely inappropriate and deeply disappointing video yesterday afternoon that violates everything we value, the administration of Grace Christian Academy has taken swift action to meet with all students involved. Severe disciplinary action has been issued as GCA does not condone this behavior or any form of racism. We will continue to seek truth and enact appropriate discipline.”
“What we have witnessed in the last 24 hours is in no way consistent with the mission and core values of GCA,” the statement insisted.
“We are doing everything possible to ensure the physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being of all our students and staff. Teachers and trained professionals will be available to speak with GCA students or families tomorrow if desired.”
Community stakeholders like state Rep. Gloria Johnson, also weighed in on the video, calling it “distressing.”
The Knoxville Democrat tweeted, “This is so distressing. The fact that they were so bold and not even a bit embarrassed about this is just shocking. That they felt comfortable sharing it means that they thought everyone else would think it was funny also. Who taught them this?”
Another person from the community said she withdrew her son’s application from the school because of the video.
“Well I just withdrew my sons application for this school,” wrote the person on Twitter.
Theron Corse, a history teacher with a concentration in religion on the island of Cuba, stated, “Many Christian schools were founded explicitly to fight desegregation … Whether Grace is one of the schools or not, the racist culture is pretty pervasive in Christian schools.”
The account that originally posted the video is now deleted.