Students walk out of class to protest racist social media posts

HAYWOOD COUNTY, TN (WMC) - Students and parents at Haywood High School staged a walkout Monday morning.

The protest comes after a series of racist remarks were captured on Snapchat and circulated on Sunday. The remarks include celebrating the man who killed Martin Luther King Jr., threatening to shoot black men, and threatening to hang people who like and/or associate with black people.

"They want to kill black people...anyone who loves black people. We were targeted," student Malik Green said.

Students said the social media posts surfaced after it became public that a baseball player was involved in an interracial relationship.

Some parents who joined the protest said they helped the students organize and plan a peaceful protest in order to get their frustrations heard and their message out.

"These kids are our leaders," one parent said. "This is our future. So, I'm proud of every one of these kids who are out here."

Haywood County Schools said it is investigating the posts.

Superintendent Joey Hassell released the following statement Monday:

"I was made aware of the social media post regarding Haywood High School on Sunday morning.

Hassell later released another statement Monday night:

The Superintendent of Haywood County Schools, Joey Hassell, has authorized an in-depth investigation into allegations of social media posts concerning Haywood High School. The investigation is fully supported by the Haywood County Board of Education. The scope of the investigation will concern those who made the posts and those who were aware of the posts and failed to report pursuant to the Haywood County Board of Education policies and procedures. The investigation is underway and is anticipated to take place over the remainder of the week. The Board of Education cannot legally comment on any investigation concerning its students. As Superintendent Hassell has previously stated, hatred, racism, and bigotry has no place in our school district. The priority of the Haywood County Board of Education is the education of all students; therefore, school will be in regular session tomorrow. Accordingly, the board encourages families to help ensure student presence in class.

Students said they planned to continue protesting until they felt their concerns were properly addressed by the school system.

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