The school district is looking into a video of Highland High School students reenacting the scene of George Floyd’s murder
A year after the death of George Floyd at the hands of the police and a couple of weeks after a jury convicted the officer responsible of second-degree murder, Arizona students decided to mock the circumstances surrounding Floyd’s death.
Officials from Gilbert Public Schools District in Arizona questioned and reprimanded students after a complaint was made and a video published online shows what appears to be two high school students reenacting the murder of Floyd.
This video was taken right in front of the only black girl in the class TODAY & happens to be my friends niece. They're reenacting the murder of #GeorgeFloyd! An apology won’t cut it! @Highland_Hawks
4301 E Guadalupe Rd, Gilbert, AZ 85234
4808130051 @POWER983 @FOX10Phoenix @abc15 pic.twitter.com/LlOlVnyGTq
— Mercedez (@MercedezUAZ2) April 29, 2021
In May of last year, Floyd died after Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. Floyd’s murder prompted global outrage and months of civil rights rallies across the country. Last month, a jury found Chauvin guilty on charges of second- and third-degree murder, as well as second-degree manslaughter.
Although some may point to studies that say generations of teens have used dark humor to process difficult situations, the recent (and welcome) conversations surrounding inclusivity, microaggressions, and mental health rightfully reframe this type of hurtful humor.
The video, which was posted online earlier this week, reveals what looks like one student lying face down on the floor while another student keeps his knee on his classmate’s neck and pushes his hand down on his back.
The incident occurred in a classroom, during what appears to be class time at the high school.
A person in the video says, “They’re demonstrating a Spanish word” and giggles. The two classmates then stand in what looks like a classroom full of other students observing the reenactment. According to a Twitter post, one Black girl was in the schoolroom during the incident.
AZ Central reports that a Gilbert school district spokesperson claimed an investigation began “immediately” after Highland High School administration got a report of the episode on Wednesday.
An email from the school’s principal, Melinda Murphy, sent to students and families on Friday, announced the incident had been reviewed and that the “parties involved were disciplined according to Gilbert Schools policy.”
Some took to Twitter to express their frustration.
“All breaches of Gilbert Public Schools student code of conduct are investigated to their full extent and district policies and procedures are followed to deliver consequences,” a statement from the school district read. “Gilbert Public Schools strives to create communities of inclusion and any act of racism is in direct opposition to the values that we hold as a school district.”
Unfortunately, the scrutiny of Highland High is not new. Students at the school have been accused of racist behavior when a pair of classmates used a derogatory slur about Blacks in a video. Further, a photo with students posing with the “OK” hand motion was posted to Twitter. The “OK” gesture is labeled as a hate symbol after white supremacists started utilizing the sign in photos. At the time of the original photo, the district said the students in the video were disciplined but did not clarify what measures were taken to ensure the behavior exhibited did not occur again.
— Josh Johnson (@J_Johnson_TD) June 5, 2020
After the episode was reviewed by school officials, the principal said in an email that she expects “students to treat each other with respect and kindness.”
“In no way do the actions of a few speak for Highland High or Gilbert Public Schools,” the email from the school official said. “There is no room on this campus for racial slurs, racist acts, or racially charged language.”
The email stated students who participate in these activities will be disciplined according to student conduct policies. The principal also explained “we share responsibility” to establish an inclusive space for pupils to learn.
“Please take some time to reflect with your children on the power they have to positively impact the campus and the Hawk community,” the email said.
Highland High School Athletics also addressed the issue in an email to students that said the division “does not condone the actions of some of our students this week.”
“Their actions do not align with the core values of the HHS athletic department or of the campus. We work hard as an athletic community to bring diversity to our coaching staff and our programs and will continue to do so,” the email said.