The phrase “guilty by association” was hard to ignore after a high school principal in Colorado decided to quit weeks after a photo of several of her students re-enacting the horrific murder of George Floyd went viral last month.
Mead High School Principal Rachael Ayers would not provide a reason when asked by the Boulder Daily Camera whether her resignation was prompted by the racist photo scandal. The photo, which was first posted to Snapchat, showed three unidentified students, including one person wearing Blackface lying on the ground with another individual kneeling on his neck. The photo was captioned with the words, “Bye bye seniors.”
St. Vrain Valley Schools Superintendent Don Haddad notified parents via email on Monday about Ayers’ plan to step down and referenced “significant challenges” that the school faced this year.
It was unclear if the students have been identified or whether they have been held accountable for their racist actions on school property.
Atlanta Black Star reported that parents of Mead High School students said there were previous complaints about “racist” incidents at the school. One suggested that if history was any indication, Ayers wouldn’t do anything about the racist photo.
That parent said: “My son said lots of racist things have happened there (said there are lots of ‘white hicks’ that go there)… but that the principal never does anything about it.”
An unidentified alumni said she was concerned that racist actions like this were still happening at her alma mater.
“Four years ago, we were dealing with race in this school, too. Anything like that should not be tolerated by anybody,” she said.
The St. Vrain Valley Schools District first acknowledged the photo on May 20, calling it “disturbing and disgusting.”
Days later, dozens of Mead High School students staged a protest against the photo and to draw attention to other racist actions at the school, the Denver Post reported. The students marched holding signs with messages condemning hate, including “Black Lives Matter” and another that said, “As long as we tolerate racist behavior we all might as well be the students in the photo.”
An online petition to bring attention to “the racial profiling discrimination that occurs at MHS” was nearing its target of 10,000 signatures as of Tuesday afternoon.
“Having such students re-create a humiliating death is disgusting, they have dishonored themselves and the name in our school,” the petition says in part. “in our school people have raced racial discrimination and it won’t be allowed. THESE KIDS NEED TO BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR THEIR ACTIONS.”
To be sure, this is not the first time we’ve seen people re-enact Floyd’s murder. In the months following the inhumane police violence, a so-called George Floyd challenge took off on social media with people posing for photos in a similarly racist fashion.
This is America.