Tennessee high school students have been hit with “severe disciplinary action” after one of them was filmed wearing an improvised KKK-style hood, prompting school officials to condemn an action they say goes against “everything we value”.
Officials at the private Grace Christian Academy in Knoxville, Tennessee said they took “swift” action within a day of the video appearing on social media last week.
The video was first posted on a Twitter account that has since been deleted. Obtained by WBIR, the video is about a minute long and shows the student wearing the hood and holding a jug in one hand and a black pole in the other.
The student is being led to a chair which has “Grace” written on the back of it. A person off-camera asks the student in the video, “Who do we hate?”
The n-word can be heard being shouted in response, prompting laughter. The head of the academy, Tony Pointer, said on Thursday that the actions in the video were “extremely inappropriate and deeply disappointing”, adding that school leaders held a meeting with the students involved after they became aware of the footage, The Washington Post noted.
“What we have witnessed in the last 24 hours is in no way consistent with the mission and core values of GCA,” Dr Pointer wrote on Facebook. “We are doing everything possible to ensure the physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being of all our students and staff.”
The Ku Klux Klan was founded by former confederate soldiers after the Civil War in Pulaski, Tennessee, about 150 miles from Knoxville. It’s one of the oldest groups of white supremacists in the US and has perpetrated attacks against Black people, Jews, LGBT+ persons, and immigrants.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, the Klan is now made up of around 40 groups across various states.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has tracked 28 hate groups that were active in Tennessee last year. The largest rally for the Klan last year was held in the state, according to the nonprofit.
Retired teacher and Democratic State Representative Gloria Johnson tweeted, “the fact that they were so bold and not even a bit embarrassed about this is just shocking. That they felt comfortable sharing it, means that they thought everyone else would think it was funny also. Who taught them this?”
The Tennessee Holler reported that someone close to the school has said that between three and seven students will be expelled and the school is taking a “zero tolerance” position on the matter. The outlet also reported that the video was from August and only now was revealed.
Ms Johnson commended the school for its response, tweeting that she was “glad to see the good folks at Grace taking this extremely seriously, much appreciated”.
Council on American-Islamic Relations spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said in a statement that “we welcome the swift disciplinary action taken by the school in this case and hope that action will include teaching all students about the negative impact of systemic anti-Black racism and white supremacy”.
Mr Pointer said school officials will “continue to seek truth and enact appropriate discipline”.