A doctored photograph showing Ku Klux Klan hoods covering the faces of all but three black children at a New Mexico high school has left parents outraged.
A student at Volcano Vista High School in Albuquerque allegedly took the photo and with another pupil posted the image to social media on August 25, according to local ABC affiliate KOAT.
The two students were suspended from school as a result. One of them was also kicked off the football team due to the offensive photograph.
The mother of one student not covered in the photograph called the incident ‘disgusting,’ saying she was concerned for her daughter’s safety.
‘It was appalling, disgusting. We felt like this was just a serious display of hate,’ said Mary Morrow-Webb, who has two other daughters that attend Volcano Vista.
‘I was shocked, angry, afraid for my daughters. I just can’t imagine what they feel like walking through the halls, having to deal with this,’ the father, Lamont Webb told KOAT, adding that his children have complained about racist bullying before.
In fact, the Webbs say they have alerted the school to bigotry and bullying in the past, but have yet to see any results.
‘We’ve been coming in with complaints of my daughter saying someone called her the N-word,’ Morrow-Webb said. ‘Someone called her a porch monkey and different things like that on a regular basis.’
‘And now they say they can’t go back,’ Morrow-Webb continued. ‘And we can’t afford to send our daughters to private school, so what options do they have? They finally have broken my girls. So what do we do?’
The principal of Volcano Vista, Dr. Vickie Bannerman, sent a letter to parents saying the picture was ‘repugnant and hateful,’ adding that students ‘shouldn’t use (a social media) platform to harass, tease or threaten others.’
Albuquerque Public School superintendent Raquel Reedy has called the photo unacceptable, and said the authorities have been alerted to the situation.
‘We took this to our police department,’ Reedy told the broadcaster.
‘They came and investigated and are really looking very carefully at whether we should file charges for hate crimes. This is something we’re looking at very carefully because it’s this serious.’
Asked about prior incidents of racism not being addressed by the school, Reedy said that the new administration at Volcano Vista will be pro-active in deterring such behavior.
‘The fact is that [Dr. Bannerman] is out to make sure that this doesn’t happen again,’ Reedy said.
‘She is adamant that the school is going to be safe for every single student that attends, and I would encourage any parent who has any concerns to contact Ms. Bannerman because she will look into it and they would be heard.’
Full Letter by Volcano Vista High School Principal to Parents
Dear Volcano Vista Community,
We learned this week about a very disturbing photograph that was posted to Snapchat by a couple of our students. The picture was photo-shopped to look like a group of students in one of our classrooms wearing Klan hoods. The students who doctored the picture and posted it to social media said it was supposed to be a joke. Of course, it was in no way funny. In fact, I found it repugnant and hateful. Please know that the students involved have been appropriately and expeditiously disciplined.
At Volcano Vista High School, we expect all students to be treated with dignity and respect, and we deem unacceptable all acts of discrimination and harassment including but not limited to sexual, racial and religious. This is what we teach; this is what we live by.
You might want to talk to your child about this incident. Remind them to think twice about what they post to social media. They shouldn’t use the platform to harass, tease or threaten others, and they should remember that everything they post leaves a “digital footprint” that can last forever – even in sites like Snapchat. Hateful, discriminatory or bullying messages and photographs may very well come back to haunt them as they apply for college and jobs.
On behalf of VVHS, I’d like to sincerely apologize to all who were hurt and offended by this unacceptable prank. If you have questions or concerns, I welcome you to contact me or a member of the Volcano Vista administration.