Police will not be filing any criminal charges against the students who made disturbing racist threats in a leaked group chat, according to Haywood County Schools’ superintendent.
School officials in Brownsville, Tennessee, have launched a "full investigation" into group chats that have circulated among students and community members at Haywood High School. The exchanges show racial slurs and disturbing threats against one or more black people — including the phrase "stringing a nigger up."
Three former and one current student provided BuzzFeed News screenshots of a private group chat, which they said took place among white Haywood High School students, in which they reference "hang[ing] nigger lovers" and making an "example" out of them.
Haywood alumni Kyler Douglas, 21, was one of the first to publicly share the photos of the text to his Facebook page two weeks ago. He told BuzzFeed News a friend who is a current student at the school sent them to him but had himself been "too scared to say something."
Douglas said his friend is a black student on the Haywood High School baseball team, and claims the students in the group chat are also members of the baseball team.
School officials told BuzzFeed News they were made aware of the messages late Sunday morning. "We are completing a full investigation and will then take appropriate action based on the findings and following school board policy," Haywood County Schools Superintendent Joey Hassell said.
Kyler Douglas / Facebook
On Monday, students, parents, and members of the community showed up to the school in protest. Some claimed that not enough has been done to penalize the students responsible and to protect those who were threatened.
"Something needs to happen," said Douglas, who participated in the sit-in protest at the school. "I don't know if anything will happen."
Freshman Angelina Ferrer, who skipped her classes Monday to participate in the protest, said she believed the alleged punishment the white students received was not sufficient enough.
"We will not stop until we get justice with the school school system," she said.
The school's principal, Jerry Pyron, did not return a request for comment from BuzzFeed News.
In an official statement via its Facebook page, Hassell said the school district is "cooperating with the Brownsville Police Department to ensure that we have a safe, orderly learning environment for our students."
Hassell also stated that Brownsville police will not be filing any criminal charges against the students in the group chat.
BuzzFeed News attempted to contact the police department but were informed that there was no one in the office who could take any questions — “There’s no one in the office; they’re all at the high school protest,” a dispatcher said.
The investigation will look into those who made the posts, as well as anyone who was aware of the posts and failed to report them, Hassell said in a statement. The investigation is underway, he said, and is expected to continue for the rest of the week.