Ninth-grader charged with battery, hate crimes for hurling cotton balls at Black student, whipping him with belt
A white high school student has been arrested on hate crime charges after video captured him throwing cotton balls at a Black classmate and whipping him with his belt in a racist incident that was filmed and then circulated on social media.
A 15-year-old freshman at Vandebilt Catholic High School in Houma, La., was arrested on battery and hate crime charges in the March 9 incident, The Associated Press reported.
In the video the white student walks up behind his classmate, who is sitting in a crowded lunchroom, and hurls a handful of cotton balls at him. After that the student whips the Black teen with his belt until that student stands and pushes him.
The video was later shared on social media. Clapback was swift, with the archdiocese releasing a statement against such sentiments and acts, and a police investigation.
According to news outlets, the victim was one of a handful of Black students at the school. School president Jeremy Gueldner said racism and bullying are not tolerated at the institution.
School officials and detectives met with the Black student’s parents, and school and archdiocese officials emphasized that such behavior was not acceptable.
“Actions by a few are not consistent with the values and mission of our school,” the archdiocese said, according to WWL-TV.
“We will continue to pray for our school community as a whole, that we not only get through this together but that we each learn a valuable lesson from what has taken place,” the parents said in a statement from the archdiocese obtained by AP.
The student was booked into the Terrebonne Parish Juvenile Justice Center on Tuesday, and Sheriff Tim Soignet in a statement commended his detectives for their “thorough investigation.”
The Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office had received a complaint last Thursday after the video circulated on social media. It was recorded during school hours, police said.
“When we received the complaint, we immediately put our detectives on it. They worked through the weekend so we could get to this point,” Soignet said. “My officers did a good job handling it and working with the school to get this case to where it is now.”
Neither boy was named in what the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana called an “inexcusable injustice” that did not come from out of nowhere, reported WWL.
“This was a child who thought what he was doing was OK. Potentially even funny,” ACLU Louisiana director Director Nora Ahmed told WWL. “When we think about bullying, when we think about young children who experience bullying and what happens to them. This is how it starts.”
Jerome Boykin, president of the Terrebonne Parish branch of the NAACP, lauded the swift response, which he said “sent a strong message to the community that this type of crime will not be tolerated.”