Racist language found on bathroom wall in regional school system in western Massachusetts

SOUTHWICK, Mass. — An investigation is underway after racist language was found written on a bathroom wall in a regional school district in western Massachusetts, as six eighth graders are facing criminal charges for their involvement in a “mock slave auction” online.

Police were notified after the racist language was found on a bathroom wall, Southwick-Tolland-Granville Regional School District Superintendent Jennifer Willard said in a letter to families on Thursday. She did not specify when, or in which school building, the racist language was found.

“I am completely disheartened that I must so quickly address an issue of racism in our community,” Willard said in her letter. “The District was made aware of racist language written on a bathroom wall. As previously stated, the District takes any acts of hate, racism, or discrimination in any form seriously.”

“At this time, the incident is under investigation and the police have been notified,” Willard said. “The District will NOT tolerate this type of hate and we all MUST work together in order to affect change in our communities. The District will remain steadfast in our commitment to providing a safe school environment for all staff and students.”

Six eighth graders have been criminally charged for their alleged roles in using Snapchat to set up a “mock slave auction” and direct hateful and racist comments towards Black students, the district attorney said Thursday.

The students, whose names were not released because they are juveniles, are reportedly 13 and 14 years old.

All six juveniles were charged with threats to commit a crime, Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni said. Two of the juveniles were also charged with interference with civil rights, and one of those juveniles is also facing an additional charge of witness interference.

The middle school students were charged “for their alleged roles in facilitating and participating in hateful racist online chat that included heinous language, threats and a mock slave auction,” Gulluni said.

State police detectives assigned to his office began investigating last month after learning of the allegations, Gulluni said.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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