Monday, May 15, 2017

Online racism: Two more students sue over public shaming

The San Jose Mercury News reports:
Two more students who were punished for their roles in a racist Instagram incident at Albany High are suing school district officials and their principal, alleging violations of their right to free speech, as well as being forced to endure public shaming, violence and emotional abuse.

In the lawsuit filed Friday, the students allege they were unfairly treated by school officials, despite the fact they did not post any photos. Instead they say they were suspended and publicly shamed, because they had “liked” or “commented” on a few of the racially offensive photos while at home, rather than at school, which should thus be considered part of a private conversation, rather than public speech.

Students also allege that school district officials and administrators “created a racially hostile environment,” by allowing the identification of the two students, who were among a total of 13 they say were identified, as well as subjected to violence, verbal and emotional abuse for five hours during a protest, without any protection from the school. They also say they were singled out at a so-called “restorative justice session” later held at the school, aimed at healing wounds in the community by allowing the injured to air their grievances. They charge that some teachers and administrators not only condoned and supported the event, but many of them participated in it.

“None of the administrators did anything to prevent these students from being assaulted, placed, in fear for their lives, and held there, some for over five hours, terrified,” reads the lawsuit filed by attorney Joseph Salama on behalf of the two plaintiffs. “Two of the Thirteen (students) were even attacked, resulting in one being rushed to the hospital with a broken nose.” Police say that allegation is under investigation.
Is this a RICO enterprise against two students?