SOUTHINGTON — The school system and police are investigating after a Southington High School student’s violently racist video was posted on social media.
The video shows a young man speaking and yelling angrily into the camera. He uses racial slurs against people “in this group chat,” challenges them to come to his house to fight him and threatens to burn a cross in their yard. He also says that he “hung 12 black men from a tree just this night.”
It’s unclear who posted the video. The identity of the person in the video hasn’t yet been confirmed although he was named on Twitter.
Lt. Stephen Elliott said Thursday police were made aware of a “social media message with racist content that was made by a juvenile who attends Southington High School.” Elliott said the comments were made in a private social media chat and another person in the conversation shared the comments publicly.
Police are conducting interviews with people involved and witnesses, Elliott said. As of Thursday afternoon, no charges had been filed. Elliott said police had spoken with the juvenile in the video and a parent.
The racist diatribe was recorded from a Snapchat video and posted to Twitter Wednesday night.
In a letter sent to parents on Thursday, School Superintendent Timothy Connellan said he was made aware of a video posted on social media that was “allegedly posted by a student enrolled in the Southington Public Schools.” Connellan said the video contains “language implying the support of violence against people of color.”
“It will take some time to ascertain the facts,” Connellan said.
Parents and students at the high school on Thursday said they were surprised by the comments in the video. Alena Firsava has a son who is a senior and said the nature of the comments is dangerous.
Lauren Seitz, 16, said she was shocked by the content of the video. Jeremy Capobianco, 16, also saw the video early Thursday, and said he was ashamed that those type of comments are being linked to the school.
“It’s a tight knit community,” Capobianco said about the school. “I never expected to hear that. It’s an extremely radical view.”
Scot X. Esdaile, president of the NAACP's state chapter, hadn’t seen the video Thursday morning but found reports of it concerning if true, particularly the references to threats of lynching and burning crosses.
“That’s definitely criminal in nature,” Esdaile said.
While the state has hate crime laws, Esdaile said they’re not often enforced.
“It seems that people in leadership positions aren’t taking hate crimes seriously,” he said.
The video was removed from Twitter by 1:30 p.m. Thursday.
“Please note that Southington Public Schools do not condone, support or tolerate the type of language or behavior demonstrated in the video,” Connellan said in the statement. “Any student in the Southington Public School District whose behavior is shown to be seriously disruptive of the educational process will experience disciplinary consequences consistent with Board of Education Policy and Regulation and the applicable State and Federal statutes and regulations.”