Tuesday County Executive Steve Schuh, Tom Altamore of Anne Arundel County Police, Julie Hummer of AACPS Schoolboard, and George Arlotto the County School Superintendent met for a press conference at Annapolis High School to discuss several threats of violence in the last two weeks at several county schools.
After the Parkland High School shooting on February 14 of this year, teachers, students, parents, politicians, and activist locally and nationally have called for tighter security at public schools. A national conversation about youth activism has been sparked by the #MarchForOurLives and #NeverAgain social media campaigns. Last week students led school walkouts at several schools across the nation, which sparked Superintendent Arlotto to send a letter home to parents of students.
In the letter, he implied that AACPS affiliates and representatives cannot encourage students to be engaged in civic disobedience during school hours and school property. He also alluded to the fact that students who left school property would be subject to punishment by their respective school administrators.
Many parents have raised concerns about the direction the school board and the county executive have taken in response to threats of mass violence and student activism. The other underlying issue involving the recent threats of violence against students in Anne Arundel County is the blatant racism that has been associated with several of the threats made.
The first incident that sparked local outrage, was an incident of blatant racial terror aimed at Chesapeake High School students. A social media threat “to kill all niggas” was shared virally between students and was eventually brought to the attention of school officials. The School Principal, Stephen W. Gorski, set home a letter to parents, explaining the threat and that they would be investigating it.
The problematic issue with the AACPs letter is that the school system replaced the racial slur “niggas” with Black people.
This was a highly insensitive move by AACPS, because they have perpetuated the stereotype of Black people being identified as “niggers”. If the threat was properly investigated, and the criminals who made the threat were planning to kill Black People, why was the threat of White Nationalist activity not made public?
After the Chesapeake High incident, there were similar social media postings at North County, NorthEast, Glen Bernie, Old Mill, and Broadneck the most recent as of this weekend. There have apparently been some arrests made, school system and AACPD have yet to identify the identity and cause behind threats.
Similar postings on AACPS and AACPD social media pages, imply that all threats have been investigated and that parents need to talk to their children about “social media pranks” that are disruptive to school activities.
Government officials need to be aware of the sensitivity of racial bias in education and equality. Posts about “killing niggers” can never be taken as a joke.
With the history of racism and lynchings in Anne Arundel County and Mayland, there is no room for insensitivity and discrimination. What may be more alarming and shameful is the fact that no executive across the county has addressed the potential racial agenda of the school threats.
Why do have Black children been targeted by White children? Who or what is behind this hate of Black Children?
The press conference set up by county leadership did not at one time address the racist motives behind School threats. “Arundel United” a branch of Anne Arundel County government, that was tasked with creating county-wide conversation around racial justice have not responded to the threats nor issued any statements about the threats.
As typical party politics go, county executive Schuh, a Republican, has pushed the Trump administration agenda of more officers more cameras. The County exec, flanked by his subordinates and surrounded by other county officials and police, pushed their agenda without any comment or conversation with the activist organizations that advocate for racial justice and social equity.
More officers and more cameras will create more security for students, but will never solve the cancers of racism, hate, and injustice.
Richard W. Right is a writer and activist from Anne Arundel County.
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