Cyber harassment charges for 14yo who posted racist Snapchat that sparked fight
“I found the video to be outrageous, insulting, demeaning, and a video that seriously disparages the African American male’s physical characteristics, and his African American race,” Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli told reporters on Tuesday.
Morganelli is charging the 14-year-old white student with cyber harassment of a child and ethnic intimidation. He argued the video is not protected free speech when it resorts to personal abuse.
In October, the white teen recorded a 16-year-old black student eating chicken wings at lunch and posted it on Snapchat, according to investigators. In the video, the white student calls the black student the N-word and jokes that he was on welfare, Morganelli said.
“He said, ‘Look at the f*cking n*****, you know he’s on welfare. He probably can’t even buy any chicken,” Al Rivers, a parent with a student at the school, told WCAU.
The charges stem from the DA’s probe into an assault which happened at a Saucon Valley High School football game in October when the black student beat up the white learner, reportedly provoked by the video. The white teen suffered a concussion after being kicked and punched during the fight.
The black student endured other racist behavior from students at the school, which he began attending after moving to the area from out of state. He had been insulted and in one instance someone tried to drape a Confederate flag over him, according to the DA.
The black teen faces charges of assault in juvenile court. That prompted the black student’s lawyer to complain that authorities acted in insensitively to the racial aspects of the case over the lack of charges against the white.
The video was just one of many racist attacks against the black student, Rivers, a family friend, told WCAU.
“He had been going through some stuff for some years,” Rivers said. “One student actually threw a confederate flag at him. There were other slurs.”
Saucon Valley High School has a non-white enrollment of about 13 percent, and reported eight such incidents in the past five years.
Morganelli confirmed that racist incidents have occurred at Saucon Valley High School for months, claiming that a group of white students calling themselves “the rednecks” were harassing black students at the school. He hoped the charges against the teen will send a message.
“This is the kind of conduct we have to stop. These are young kids, they are going to make mistakes, but it is not acceptable,” Morganelli told reporters. “I believe this disposition is appropriate. They will get educated about proper conduct of the sensitivities to all of our characteristics including our race or ethnicity, and hopefully both these young boys can move forward.”
The white student's attorney, Michael Moyer, told The Morning Call that the recording was "offensive, no question." But he added that "as offensive as the video was, physically assaulting someone is worse."
The prosecutor said the 14-year-old will likely have to attend a racial sensitivity program.