A middle school football team in Virginia has forfeited the remainder of its season after players made a racially insensitive video showing football players simulating rape on their Black peers.
Police are investigating.
The students recorded the video sometime last week, and someone shared it on Snapchat. It ultimately got out and spread in this Richmond suburb of nearly 25,000.
The video is captioned: “What really goes on in the football locker room.” In the clip, some of the team’s white football players simulate sex acts on the black members, bending them over benches or gyrating against them on the floor, according to Richmond CBS affiliate WTVR. Another caption says “We gonna (expletive) the black outta these African children from Uganda.”
An edited version of the video — and a full account of the outrage it was sparking — was broadcast on a local TV news station. Parents were angered. Police were called. And the school board decided it had to act.
In a message to the community posted Friday on Facebook, the Henrico County School Board said it was “deeply concerned” by the video.
“Adamantly, behavior of this type will not be tolerated in our schools,” the letter said. “… We have extremely high expectations, and students who fail to meet the Code of Student Conduct standards will be addressed promptly and appropriately.”
The letter also outlined the punishment those implicated would face:
The remaining games would be forfeited, but practices would continue, with a big change: “A mandatory component of practices will be discussions that focus on reporting responsibilities, accountability, ethics, sexual harassment, and racial tolerance.”
But questions still swirled: Why wasn’t an adult in the locker room, supervising the kids, per school policy? Why didn’t school officials notify parents before the news broadcast? And why punish an entire team for the inappropriate behavior of a few students?
No one has been charged over the video, and news outlets said investigators were trying to determine whether the black students in the video were a part of a very bad joke or were filmed against their will.
As the investigation continues, some claim that the district’s punishment — especially against the students who didn’t take part in the video — went too far, while others said school leaders didn’t go far enough.
Lorraine Wright of the Richmond-based I Vote for Me human rights group, told NBC affiliate WWBT that her organization is filing a federal complaint with the Office for Civil Rights. I Vote for Me advocates for equality in education.
“Clearly, the intent was to dehumanize the boy of color, and that’s something we can’t sweep under the rug and mischaracterize as ‘offensive and wrong’ because it was way beyond that,” she said.
Watch the video below.