School administrators say they are investigating racially threatening messages that were written on a bathroom wall at Champlin Park High School and shared online. The discovery came Wednesday, the same day hundreds of students protested at the school over other racially insensitive social media posts, a school district spokesman said.
A recorded message from Principal Mike George was sent out to families to tell them about the incident and that school administration is actively investigating it.
“Champlin Park High School will not tolerate language of hate or actions of violence,” he said in the message.
Anoka-Hennepin School District spokesman Jim Skelly said several messages were written on the tile wall, part of which read, “I hate black people. They are stupid. They disgust me.” Photos of the graffiti were shared on social media.
Officials are interviewing students and reviewing camera footage to determine who might have been in the bathroom when the messages were written.
The message has added to an emotionally charged situation that has been growing since late last week when a video of one student, wearing a blue sweatshirt with the letters “CPVB” sewn on the front — apparently referring to the volleyball team — is shown singing a rap song that includes some racially inappropriate language. The video surfaced on social media.
Another post shows a different volleyball player with dark makeup covering her entire face, resembling blackface.
On Wednesday, two members of the volleyball team were suspended from Thursday’s state tournament match against Moorhead, the lawyer representing the players said.
Attorney Phil Villaume said the students oppose racism and that the dust-up that sparked the student rally was a result of a misunderstanding and fueled by misinformation being spread online. He said the students and parents aren’t fighting the one-match suspension but contacted him to convey their side of the story.
“There was no intent to harm anyone or offend anybody,” Villaume said. “There’s no racism here. Just good kids who made a mistake. … Some kids don’t really appreciate the repercussions of what they’re doing and that it will offend some.”
The student in dark makeup said she was mimicking an actor in a theater production but Villaume didn’t have details about the production. The other student was disciplined for singing along with a rap song that included inappropriate language, he said. Neither student had anything to do with the racially charged graffiti, Villaume said.
The two volleyball players met with the students they offended and school administrators and apologized, Villaume added. On Wednesday, more than 100 students assembled inside the front entrance of the school to stand against racism.
The protest was planned before the graffiti was found and before the tournament suspensions were made public. District officials said they are talking with students about behavior on social media.
Staff writer Mary Lynn Smith contributed to this report.
Tim Harlow • 612-673-7768