In response to a local student’s social media video mocking the murder of George Floyd, Enumclaw High School student leaders have penned a letter to administration demanding the district condemn racism and punish those that perpetuate it.
The letter was not signed with names, but was written by the Associated Student Body’s top leadership, including President Jasmine Reyes, Vice President Audrey Crumb, Treasurer Naomi Portillo, and Secretary Nicole Huss.
“As students of the Enumclaw School District, we are saying loudly and clearly that we are unequivocally denouncing not only the hate that was in the first video but also the continued hate, threats and retaliation that followed, attacking the students that were brave enough to stand up and call them out on their act,” the letter reads. “There are far too many ESD students that believe these types of acts are okay, and should even be celebrated. This must change.”
The video in question was first posted to Snapchat last week, but at least one EHS student pushed it to other platforms, including the private “Anti-Racism Work in Enumclaw” Facebook group, which has more than 100 members.
The video shows one teenager on his back with another person’s knee on his neck.
“I can’t breath,” the one laying down can be heard saying, with laughter in the background. Another voice, offscreen, says something unintelligible, but ends their sentence with the word “negro”.
George Floyd of Minneapolis was killed May 25, 2020, when former police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for nearly eight minutes while Floyd said multiple times he couldn’t breathe. His death sparked protests about systemic racism and police brutality around the nation.
Given that no charges have been filed, the Courier-Herald will not identify the students involved. However, at least one of the students appears to have a history of making racist comments, including creating an earlier Snapchat video featuring him singing a parody of “Iron Man” about being a Klu Klux Klan member.
Junior Audrey Crumb, vice president of the ASB, was one of the students who pulled the re-enactment of George Floyd’s murder from Snapchat and posted it to other social media platforms to denounce the video and the people involved.
“That title holds a lot of responsibility, and when I saw this horrific video, I knew I couldn’t stay silent,” she said in an email interview. “I see things like this often on the internet, but it is a whole new level of disturbing when you know the kids involved.”
She said most students that saw the video were just “as disgusted” as she was, but others tried to harass her into taking her posts down.
“Somebody even publicly posted a video where they called me out by name and threatened me with violence, creating a new safety issue for [me and] my family, all because I had spoken up against racism amongst EHS students,” Crumb added.
It appears one of the students more involved in the video attempted to apologize privately over text messages or social media, but the ASB letter specifically demands all the students involved “publicly apologize for their behavior and the pain it has caused for members of our community.”
Another junior, who asked to remain unnamed, also posted the video to other social media platforms.
“Everyone who has reacted to my reposting of this video has had a similar reaction as me: first shock, then anger and disgust and wanting to get this group punished by the school for what they did,” she wrote in an email interview. “However, many of my friends have received threats from students who are friends with these boys/have been harassed over social media/have been sent DMs (direct messages) defending this disgusting video.”
The ASB letter calls for some sweeping changes to their school’s culture in light of this video.
“We ask that you finally address the acts of hate and racism that are perpetuated by your students, staff, and coaches on a regular basis; that the student handbook is updated with specific consequences laid out for acts of racism, homophobia, sexual assault, and retaliation; that the consequences include in-person, social media, and on/off-campus activities,” the letter reads. “Anyone that continues to cause pain to our BIPOC students must be immediately reprimanded. Again, we ask that these consequences be consistently applied to all staff as well.”
The letter was sent to district administration last week, with the request the school district post it on their website for students and their families to see before ASB members posted it on their own social media platforms.
“Enumclaw School District is not able to comment on specific student circumstances via press release,” said ESD’s Public Information Officer Jessica McCartney. “We didn’t feel it was the appropriate method of delivery for their message.”
Instead, the district encouraged students bring their letter and speak at the Aug. 17 School Board meeting, which is the same meeting it was expected applicants for the current open seat on the board would be interviewed for the position.
“As a district, we’re going to continue to monitor the situation of the letter and all things connected to it,” McCartney continued. “We let the students know that we continue to prioritize having a safe and welcoming environment for all of our students.”
McCartney added that the district doesn’t have the jurisdiction to levy punishment on students who allegedly violate the code of conduct outside of school hours or activities.
ESD recently passed a statement of inclusion with the city of Enumclaw — the latter passed the resolution mid-May, and the former in late July.
“We, the Enumclaw School District Board of Directors, Enumclaw School Superitendent, City of Enumclaw Mayor and the City Council of the City of Enumclaw… do hereby proclaim that we reaffirm our community’s shared values of compassion, inclusion, respect, and dignity; and our commitment to building an environment, and a community, in which everyone is valued and everyone has the opportunity to thrive,” the statement reads.