Kansas

Johnson County High School investigates racial threat from “these cotton pickers.”

 

Bishop Miege High School and law enforcement agencies are investigating a racist social media threat targeting black students at Roeland Park private Roman Catholic school.

Administrators said they were alerted Monday night to a “disturbing social media screenshot” featuring racist language and a threat against black students. The school notified the Roeland Park Police Department, which sent officers to the students’ homes overnight, officials said.

Roeland Park Police Chief John Morris said the incident involved students texting each other on Snapchat. School officials said in an email to the families that the students were identified in the incident and “will remain off campus while the investigation continues.”

Morris said in an email to The Star that he believes “one or more (students) could be removed from the school on a permanent basis.” He said the incident remains under investigation, but his department has found “no factual information that he was expected to implement a threat.”

A screenshot of a Snapchat message shared with The Star showed an image of a student, with a message using racial slur and derogatory language, warning black students to “be careful” because “I’m going to bring a gun to school and shoot a these cotton pickers.”

Morris said the student pictured in the screenshot did not write the threatening language. Instead, she said, other students altered the language to add to the threats.

Bishop Miege officials have not confirmed whether that screenshot is the same as the one under investigation.

“Bishop Miege takes these messages seriously and will address them quickly,” school officials said in the email.

“Proper consequences will follow when all the facts are known. Miege is working with Roeland Park Police to ensure the safety of our students, faculty and staff. Bishop Miege has zero tolerance for any racial threats and threats of violence.”

Mike Kelly, a former mayor of Roeland Park who was elected chairman of the Johnson County Board of Commissioners this fall, said in a Facebook post that he was “shocked and saddened” to learn of the threat.

“All Johnson County schools, whether public, private or parochial, should be places where our youth can learn, compete and participate in safe and welcoming spaces. Threats and intolerance just don’t belong,” Kelly said. “…We will work together to address these issues, because everyone deserves to feel safe in their school and community, and we all want Johnson County, Kansas to be a place where people choose to raise a family, run a business and retire.”

The racist threat comes a week after another Johnson County school, Blue Valley High School, reported that its football stadium and newsroom were defaced with racist and offensive language during the Martin Luther King Jr Day. Video and photos of the vandalism showed the N-word and other racial and homophobic slurs, a swastika, the words “F—Jews” and other offensive messages spray-painted inside the newsroom.

SevenDays, an organization that works to overcome hatred by teaching kindness, said in a statement that both incidents demonstrate there was “much more work to be done.”

“Law enforcement along with school officials are working hard to find out who committed these abusive and harmful acts. We support their efforts to find the perpetrators,” said a statement by Mindy Corporon, president of SevenDays, which came after three people, including Corporan’s father and son, were killed by a white supremacist in 2014. outside the Jewish sites of Overland Park.

“What these perpetrators need most is education in why their words and actions are so destructive and how they can make change in positive ways.”

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