Two incidents of racial violence in a week at Leesville Road Middle School and Wake Forest High School—both videotaped and circulated on social media—have Wake County Public Schools administrators seeking ways to stop them from occurring.
"You are noticing, just like we are, that there are two incidents that have occurred," says spokeswoman Lisa Luten. "That warrants a conversation, and we are having those conversations about, 'What does it mean? What do we do? What is our responsibility?'"
The most recent episode shows three white Leesville Road middle schoolers using the N-word and other racist language. It went viral last Wednesday. "Go back to the fields of Alabama," says one of the students, who have not been identified. "Go back to the factories in Mississippi. You don't deserve freedom. KKK!"
Luten says the students have been disciplined. Citing federal privacy laws, she didn't go into specifics.
Days before that, images of an African-American Wake Forest High student identified in news accounts as Micah Speed went viral as well. The footage showed him slamming to the ground a white student, who referred to Speed by a racial epithet after the confrontation. That student had been taunting Speed, according to a petition on Change.org that had garnered more than thirty-seven thousand signatures by Friday.
"What Micah alleges is that he was the victim of racial bullying," Luten says. "What we have said is that under any circumstance bullying is not acceptable and would be addressed by the code of conduct."
Speed's supporters have asked that the other party, who has not been named, be subjected to the same ten-day suspension that Speed received. School officials would not comment on disciplinary actions taken in this case either.
Some (usually liberal) observers, including the Southern Poverty Law Center, have noted an increase in hate crimes—in schools and outside them—during the past year, which they trace to the rhetoric surrounding Donald Trump's bid for the White House. (Neither of the videos mentions Trump.) An accounting of recent North Carolina hate crimes wasn't immediately available; the legislature has mandated nine offenses that schools must report to the Department of Public Instruction, but hate crimes are not among them.
This article appeared in print with the headline "+Hate Crimes."