A Santa Monica High School wrestling team in California could face hate crime charges after they allegedly tied a noose around a dummy … and later chained an African American teammate to a locker.
To add insult to injury, the alleged victim’s mother Victoria Gray told the L.A. area district’s school board last month that she wasn’t informed about the May 4th incident until several weeks later by another parent, even though administrators and other parents had known about it for a while.
“My son was chained up by two white students at Santa Monica High School,” Gray told the school board. “That the school district administration never told me about it is an additional outrage. Only because another parent called me five weeks after the incident occurred was I able to reach out to my son.”
“Teachers and fellow students,” she added, “were left to gossip among themselves to figure out … exactly how it was that a black student was chained by his pants to a locker.”
Gray’s son entered a practice room on May 4, saw the dummy with the noose and continued into the locker room to change, authorities said, according to The Los Angeles Times. In the locker room, two students approached him. One put him in a bear hug while the other chained him to a locker with a belt.
The students reportedly also were making racial remarks, the Times reported.
While Gray’s son did not report the incident, the school was made aware of the situation, according to the paper. But the administrators did not inform the school community until June 16 — nearly five weeks later — when Principal Hugo Pedroza sent an email to high school parents about the incident and announced that the involved students “were given appropriate disciplinary consequences, including suspension.”
Though Gray referred to “two white students” in her comments to the school board, the number of students punished is unknown.
The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District declined an ABC News request to comment on the incident, citing an ongoing investigation.
Gray said she was disappointed by the way the school handled the situation, telling the board, “There is no district policy that assures parents will be informed when their children are victims of harassment or bullying.” The district superintendent apologized to Gray.
Nevertheless, Gray and her son went to the police on June 21 to file a report, and the Santa Monica police have been investigating the incident.
While authorities have not filed any charges yet, the students could face assault and hate-crime charges.
“The charges depend on what they find during the investigation,” Sgt. Richard Lewis said. “But if I were to speculate, they could get charges ranging from assault to battery to hate crime. What constitutes a hate crime will depend on what was done or said during the event.”
Darrell Goode, president of the NAACP for Santa Monica-Venice, has met with Gray and district representatives. He told ABC News the incident is difficult to take because of the symbols and words reportedly used in the incident.
While some in the community want to see these students punished further, Goode also wants to make sure that the victim gets emotional help.
“There has been a long time for him to internalize this,” Goode said.
Isn’t it 2011? Why are we still dealing with sh*t like this?