A Saucon Valley School District student is accused of filming and posting a video of a black classmate eating chicken.
The 14-year-old white student could face ethnic intimidation and harassment charges for posting the video that included racial slurs and hate speech.
The ethnic intimidation statute is used to punish people who commit hate crimes – crimes against people because of race, religion, national origin. Coupled with another charge, like harassment, the statute can be applied if the harassment was for bigoted reasons.
“If we overlook this, then this statute is meaningless,” Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli told Morning Caller.
The 16-year-old black student, after seeing the video on social media, attacked the white student at a football game. He has been charged with assault and other offenses in juvenile court, 6ABC reported.
The black student’s lawyer showed the video to Morganelli who then opened the investigation.
“I reviewed the video today and I find it to be highly offensive and reprehensible,” Morganelli said. “It depicts the 16-year-old minding his own business eating chicken wings while the 14-year-old records him and narrates it by describing the scene as ‘a N-word eating chicken.’ The video demeans the 16-year-old with numerous uses of the N-word and references to being broke and on welfare.
“As bad as that is, the 14-year-old published the offensive video on social media including Snapchat that was viewed by numerous students as well as the 16-year-old male which provoked the assault.”
The students’ names haven’t been released.
The black teen’s lawyer, Gary Asteak, told the Morning Call that the video was made at a pep rally for Saucon Valley.
“They can’t turn a blind eye to racist speech anywhere, much less our schools,” Asteak said. “To condone it is sending the wrong message to kids: that words don’t matter.”
Township Chief Guy Lesser called the speech in the video “disgusting” added that there is “no tolerance for that conduct and that conduct should be criminal.”
“If you viewed the video, you would not be surprised that the person who made the video, who made the racist remarks, was assaulted by the person he attacked,” Lesser added, Morning Call reported.
Some Saucon Valley students have adopted the term “rednecks,” Morganelli told Morning Caller, and believe harassingothers because of skin color is acceptable.
“We want to send a message to the ‘rednecks’ that this is conduct that is not permissible, and when they cross the line into violating the statute [against ethnic intimidation], I’m going to enforce it,” Morganelli said.
A neighboring school, Southern Lehigh High School, had had its shareof bias attacks committed by its students, Morning Call reported at the time. The principal sent an email to parents describing the incidents: students yelling the N-word in halls, calling lesbians “dykes” and black students “cotton-pickers” and vandalizing the school with swastikas.
Some students reportedly raised their arms into the “Heil Hitler” salute,” Morning Caller reported.