Two adults and two minors have been arrested this week in Berea, Kentucky, following an incident of racial harassment on Snapchat. The arrests follow a social media post from high school student Macie Hill detailing months of racial abuse from classmates at Madison Southern High School. The ongoing harassment culminated this week with a barrage of slurs and insults directed toward Hill on the social network.
The arrested students’ names have not been released as of this time.
Ongoing Racial Harassment
Racial discrimination has always been an issue in Hill’s life, but the racist harassment from her classmates began to ramp up after a kickball game in February. “[W]hile we were playing, I heard one of the kids say the n-word,” she said, per the Richmond Register, “so you know, I said that makes me uncomfortable, and then they said, ‘What, it’s not like we called you…’ and then he says the n-word again.”
Hill first went to a teacher, and then the principal about the incident. “You know, they never tell me what actually happened to him, but they said that they dealt with it,” she said. “And then a couple months later, while we were in social distancing and can’t go to school and everything, they sought me out on Snapchat.”
An upperclassman added Hill to a group of ROTC students on the platform, she says. “I accepted his request, and he added me to a big group of those ROTC kids who were, you know, just making fun of me and calling me the n-word.”
Taking a Stand
This round of racist attacks prompted Hill to take to Facebook where she called out her harassers.
“This was a premeditated attack on me by people I had never even spoken to nor heard of,” she said in her post. “They say since they’re seniors there’s nothing I can do about it. But I can use my voice. The most powerful weapon God gave me.”
Hill also took the school to task for their tepid response to the earlier incident of harassment. “I believe that this whole encounter could have been avoided if my school would have been more serious about the way they deal with these situations,” she said. “We need more than a slap on the wrist when dealing with racism.”
These screenshots have gone viral online. A Madison Southern High School student says the racial slurs came after she was added to a group message with other students she doesn’t even know @WKYT pic.twitter.com/98Vl9y3n05— Olivia Russell (@ORussellNews) May 7, 2020
“Since being made aware of the social media incident, we have worked closely with the Berea Police Department and with those involved to be swift and just in our handling of the situation,” school principal Brandon Watkins said in a statement. “We have not and we will not turn a blind eye to any issue of discrimination that arises.”
On Thursday, the Berea Police Department said that they were looking into the incident. “We are definitely taking the matter seriously and seeing what’s going on,” said Chief Eric Scott, according to the Richmond Register.
The following morning, the department announced that it had arrested two adults and two minors on charges of harassing communications.
Bigger Changes Needed
“I want them to learn from what they’ve done,” Hill said of the arrested. “I don’t want them to just get a slap on the wrist like they’ve been getting in the past, because that’s not working. Other schools, they would expel students for things like this, but my school is still letting them graduate, and that bothers me.”
Hill’s father, Jonas, echoed these sentiments.
“They need to have their punishment, because what they’ve done is wrong, but the bigger picture for us is that the current philosophy at the school changes,” he said. “I feel that the system let my children down.”