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Criminal probe in lewd, racist Henrico middle school video

10/27/2017, 5:33 a.m.
Shocked, appalled, horrified, disgusted. Take your pick of the responses to a graphic video showing white football players at Short ...

By Ronald E. Carrington and Jeremy M. Lazarus

Shocked, appalled, horrified, disgusted.

Take your pick of the responses to a graphic video showing white football players at Short Pump Middle School simulating the homosexual rape of at least two black teammates in the locker room amid the gleeful shout of one perpetrator that “we’re gonna to f* the black outta these African-American children from Uganda.”

Apparently filmed by the perpetrators and posted to the social media site Snapchat on Friday, Oct. 13, the vile video became a must-see news story last week that has brought unwanted nationwide attention to Henrico County and tarnished the school’s reputation as a welcoming place for all students.

And it has left adults in this increasingly diverse suburban county reeling from a naked display of bigotry out of the Ku Klux Klan playbook at a school that largely serves the children of people living in the most prosperous section of the country.

The video went public last week after the Free Press deadline.

In recent months, increasing numbers of racially charged incidents have been reported in majority-white schools in the Richmond area and across the country, but this one took the cake for the most degrading to those who were the subject of the intimidation and abuse.

In Henrico, parents are furious that the school system learned about the video on Oct. 16, but did not issue any statement until after WWBT-Channel 12 broke the story on Oct. 18.

On Wednesday night, as the Henrico School Board held a community session to allow parents and residents to air their views, Henrico Commonwealth’s Attorney Shannon L. Taylor issued a statement suggesting that further punishment could be in store.

She stated that a criminal investigation is underway and that “if laws have been broken, then my office will respond appropriately.”

The Henrico Police Department separately confirmed the probe. “We are working hand in hand with our commonwealth’s attorney’s office, and we are currently conducting interviews and speaking to folks. Right now, it is just an ongoing investigation. Nothing has been completed at this time,” said Lt. Col. Clarence Hunter, assistant Henrico police chief.

At this point, the school system’s main public response since learning of the video has been to cancel the team’s final three football games and to require players to attend practices that include workshops on racial tolerance and ethics.

Behind the scenes, according to Michelle F. “Micky” Ogburn, the School Board representative for the Three Chopt District that includes the middle school, other action has taken place. While she told a radio interviewer that student privacy laws prevent her from divulging whether any of the perpetrators have been suspended or expelled, she said, “Henrico Public Schools has a strict code of conduct, and that code was applied immediately.”

Still, many are left to wonder why the youths had no adult supervision in the locker room and why the usual work of coaches to instill camaraderie and the ethos of teamwork failed so miserably.

Others are dismayed that so many students are prepared to brazenly display a sexual knowledge that is supposed to be beyond their years.