District 300 superintendent calls video of students chanting racial slurs 'appalling'

Algonquin-based Community School District 300 Superintendent Fred Heid
Algonquin-based Community School District 300 Superintendent Fred Heid

Algonquin-based Community School District 300 Superintendent Fred Heid on Tuesday denounced the behavior of several students seen on video chanting racial slurs, calling the students’ actions “appalling and disgraceful.”

The video, posted to Twitter on Tuesday, shows a group of current and former District 300 students chanting and shouting expletives and the N-word. Several people participating in the chanting appear to also be recording on their phones.

“D300 is aware of a social media post that shows several current and former high school students chanting racial slurs,” Heid wrote on Twitter on Tuesday. “I know that I speak for our entire School Board and organization when I state emphatically that the behavior exhibited by these individuals is both appalling and disgraceful. In addition, this behavior is NOT reflective of our core values or beliefs.”

At the time, Heid was uncertain of additional details surrounding the video and why it was posted, he said. In one Twitter response, Heid said the video is allegedly “four or more years old.”

“I am disappointed and frustrated. I am saddened that we have contributed to the feelings of frustration, anger, and resentment felt by so many,” Heid wrote. “But, this is an opportunity to do better, to say more, to do more, and to embrace the issues before us with a focus on real change.”

The video surfaced amid nationwide outrage at the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds – 2 minutes and 53 seconds of which continued after Floyd was nonresponsive, according to the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office.

The officer, Derek Chauvin has since been fired and his charges were upgraded to second-degree murder and manslaughter charges Wednesday.

Floyd’s death immediately sparked protests across the country, including in McHenry County, where demonstrators in Woodstock, Huntley and McHenry have hosted peaceful Black Lives Matter protests. An additional protest is scheduled to take place Wednesday in Crystal Lake.

Christian Bradley, 33, of Chicago, posted the students’ video on Twitter on Tuesday, after his brother, a Hampshire High School student, brought it to his attention.

“Last night when we were checking in, asking if everyone was OK, my younger brother was kind of shaken up by that because those are his upper classmen basically,” Bradley said.

Bradley’s family, who is black, started a family group chat shortly after protests began throughout the country.

“For me, as somebody who has experienced racism, unfortunately you have to have those kinds of conversations with your siblings and say ‘Hey I know you don’t see it yet, but be careful around certain neighborhoods and certain people,’” Bradley said.

The video was particularly upsetting to Bradley, since he recognized one of of the chanters as the son of a suburban deputy police chief, he said.

“There’s that saying that racism isn’t learned, it’s taught,” Bradley said. “It just makes you wonder: If this is the son of a [deputy] police chief, did he learn this from his father?”

The Northwest Herald reached out to the officer Wednesday morning, but had not heard back as of 3 p.m.

Bradley said it’s possible the officer “doesn’t have a racist bone in his body,” but the connection between his position of power and his son’s actions is “a red flag.” In Chicago, where some protests have resulted in looting and vandalism, Bradley said he’s seen officers attempt to disrupt even peaceful protests.

“For some reason this feels like someone is trying to agitate people,” Bradley said. “Police officers are trying to agitate people who are just marching. I’ve never seen it this bad.”

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