Several hundred students and community members from Haywood High School in Brownsville, TN, walked out of class on Monday to demand action after members of the school’s baseball team allegedly posted graphic, racist messages against black students on social media.
“Today we all come together to fight against racism,” Malik Green, one of the protest’s student organizers, told local station WREG. “We just can’t stand for it anymore and we needed to take action.”
Some 200 students were estimated to have joined in Monday’s protest, which began inside the school, before participants walked out of the Haywood building.
Pictures of the racist messages, which were reportedly posted several weeks ago, appears to be a Snapchat conversation, in which a number of students discuss “stringing a nigger up,” and “hang[ing] the nigger lover.”
The students responsible were reportedly required to write a 10-page essay as punishment—a consequence many in the Haywood community see as woefully inadequate.
“These athletes were punished with a 10-page essay,” parent Thelma Taylor told the Jackson Sun. “And a girl got in a fight and was suspended from school for a week.”
In response to the racist messages—and the protests that followed—Haywood County Schools Superintendent Joey Hassell has launched an “in-depth investigation” into the incident, and promised that “hatred, racism, and bigotry has no place in our school district.”
Hassell also claimed that he does not believe criminal charges will be filed against the students responsible for the racist messages.
Correction: The headline and text of this story initially said that the Haywood High School basketball team was allegedly responsible for the racist messages. In fact, it was the baseball team.