Rochester Public Schools is investigating a social media post allegedly showing two white John Marshall High School students dressed in Ku Klux Klan hoods and a third in blackface makeup.
The image drew widespread condemnation from the community after it surfaced online Wednesday night.
The Med City Beat reports that students continued to share the offensive image “throughout the district this morning. According to fellow students, at least two of the individuals attend John Marshall.”
School Superintendent Michael Muñoz released a written statement to parents today saying the district is investigating the “racially charged image.”
“We are unable to provide further comment on this situation due to state and federal data privacy laws that protect student information,” the district said in the statement Thursday morning. “However, it is important for our community to know that RPS strives to create a welcoming environment for students of all backgrounds and is committed to providing a learning environment that is free from discrimination.”
“The social media post is not a reflection of what our district students and staff believes and feels,” the statement added. “We will use this as an opportunity to talk, educate, and grow as a community as we work to become even stronger and more inclusive to all students.”
The Med City Beat notes:
Already, members of the community have taken it upon themselves to notify the students’ employers of the incident. In a screenshot uploaded to Facebook, the food store Hy-Vee, where one of the individuals apparently works, responded to an inquiry with: “This behavior is not condoned by Hy-Vee and we will address this matter with this employee right away.”
The Army recruiting station in Rochester released a statement Thursday saying the individuals involved will no longer be allowed to enlist.
“Because the questionable conduct of these three individuals is inconsistent with Army values, they will no longer continue the process to become U.S. Soldiers,” the recruitment office said. “The Army does not tolerate inappropriate behavior by anyone within our ranks, to include recruits who have signed a contract to join in the future. It is important for everyone on our team to live and demonstrate the Army values every day.”
Thursday afternoon, a coalition of community groups, including S.E. Social Justice Coalition, the Diversity Council, Rochester for Justice, CIDI, NAACP, UU Racial Justice Task Group, CURE, Southeast Minnesota Area Labor Council, AFL-CIO, Olmsted County Human Rights Commission and Sierra Club North Star Chapter. issued a statement condemning “without qualification” the behavior of the students.
We assert that we cannot continue to be “shocked and saddened” by these types of incidents without recourse. There is no room in our community or in our shared future for racism, hatred, discrimination, or belligerent ignorance. We will act.
There is space now for each of us to step up and interrupt those things happening around us that perpetuate these divisive attitudes and behaviors. To truly make our community a safe and welcoming place for everyone, we all have a responsibility to recognize and interrupt the words, actions, and attitudes around us that perpetuate white supremacy. We pledge to take ownership of the intolerances that keep us as a community from reaching our fullest, most inclusive potential. We will find allies and supports when we need them. We will lift, together, now.