‘Disgusting’ racist photo involving Hurricane High School students draws disciplinary action

Hurricane High School, location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy of the Washington County School District, St. George News

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story includes images and language that some may find offensive. St. George News has chosen to blur the image originally found on Snapchat to protect the identity of the minors allegedly involved. Further, we have elected to follow Associated Press guidelines and abstain from fully using words of a racial nature. 

ST. GEORGE — An image recently circulated over social media that has been described as “racially insensitive” and “disgusting” has drawn the attention of the Washington County School District and Hurricane City Police Department.

The image, which appears to have been posted onto social media Thursday, involves three “students and non-student adults” according to the school district. It depicts two of the males on their knees being held up by the back of their shirts by the third male who’s wearing a white hood with a Confederate flag hanging on the wall behind them.

Texts posted along with the image reads: “N—– hunting 2019 I’m glad I could fill my tags this year.”

The Hurricane City Police Department was made aware of the image and has launched an investigation into the incident.

An image shared over social media that the Hurricane City Police Department and Washington County School District have decried as “racially insensitive” and “disgusting.” Hurricane, Utah, May 16, 2019

“The Hurricane Police Department is aware of the racially insensitive social media post circulating on various social media sites,” the department posted on Facebook Friday, and asked those aware of the image not to share or retweet it.

“By doing so all you are doing is helping spread this hurtful message further,” the police stated, adding, “Hurricane PD does not condone this type of message but we are also aware of individuals right to free speech. At the conclusion of the investigation the appropriate action will be taken.”

Hurricane City Police officer Ken Thompson told St. George News that the police department will not be releasing any additional information at this time.

Also responding to the image was Steven Dunham, the director of communications for the Washington County School District, who issued the following statement:

Words of disgust and sadness are insufficient to describe our feelings regarding the image that was brought to our attention the evening of May 16. This repulsive photo does not represent the concern, love and care of Washington County School District. Although this incident did not take place on school grounds or happen during school time, it does not minimize our abhorrence of this racist act.

The photo involves students and non-student adults. Appropriate discipline for the students involved began immediately. Yet no level of discipline can repair the hate, bigotry and ugliness portrayed in that one picture. The vulgar ignorance and idiocy on display are beyond repair by any small discipline we can provide. We have welcomed officials from local and federal law enforcement to review the offending photo for potential criminal violations. We are also consulting with legal counsel as we consider additional administrative actions.

As an educational institution, we will continue to teach! We will teach of love, kindness and inclusion; of respect for the fellow human beings that share our neighborhoods, our communities and the hallways in our schools. We will remind students that there is absolutely no room for the intolerance, and hatred displayed in this image. Finally, as district administrators, we are considering what education would be helpful for students to understand the significance of civil rights protections and violations, as well as appropriate use of social media.

Two students do not represent the views of the nearly 32,000 students, nor of the staff and teachers in our schools throughout Washington County School District. While we are sickened by this photo, we will move forward with love as we further educate our students.

Dunham confirmed that the students involved in the image attended Hurricane High School. However, he could not comment on the discipline they received due to federal privacy laws.

St. George News was referred to the above statement from the school district when asking additional questions, though Dunham repeated his feelings toward what had happened.

“This was a graphic and disgusting image,” he said.

This is not the first time an incident of alleged racism via social media has occurred involving Hurricane High School students.

On Martin Luther King Day 2018, a female student took a photo of herself with a noose around her neck pretending to hang herself. The caption included with the photo read “Happy nation n—– day.”

St. George News attempted to reach out to one of the individuals alleged to be involved in the latest incident, but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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