Racism continues to spread like an ugly plague across the United States. Recently in the Panama City, Florida, area, a video spread online of an apparent local teenager threatening any “nigger” who tried to enter his home with a large firearm, asserting that he would “KKK this shit” if given the chance. No public action has been taken against the individual featured in the video — although local police say they made contact with the person making the threats and their parents, they have declined to press charges. Neither confirming nor denying that any discipline had actually been delivered, Bay District Schools Superintendent Bill Husfelt added to local media that “student discipline information is confidential and protected.”
He did assert, discussing cooperation with the Bay County Sheriff’s Office:
‘We will do whatever we can, together, to ensure appropriate consequences for those who violate our right to feel safe in our homes, our schools, our places of worship and other locations in our community.’
Community members have been vocal with frustration over the lack of substantive response from authorities. The Monday after responses from Husfelt and others surfaced, extra local police officers were stationed around local schools — but that’s pretty much it. Police say that no crime was actually committed, not even unlawful possession of and display of a weapon by a minor because weapons have to be loaded to rise to the threshold required for those charges. The unidentified student’s gun does not seem to have been.
Bay County Student Advocacy Center Founder and Director Gregory S. Dossie asserted all the same:
‘As a person of color, I feel frightened and threatened.’
The implications of threatening to shoot “niggers” and “KKK this shit” aren’t exactly ambiguous. Dossie planned a community discussion about racism in local schools for this coming Sunday that he’s shared is open to the public. All Husfelt had as this weekend dawned was a public statement that local education authorities “look forward to exploring” options called for by community members like a diversity council and workshop to address these kinds of issues.
The kind of racism that was on display in the circulated video has culminated in real pain, suffering, and death for members of marginalized communities numerous times recently. Perhaps most infamously, a white supremacist using the same anti-immigrant rhetoric that President Donald Trump has employed recently stormed an El Paso, Texas, Walmart where he killed 22 people and wounded many more. More recently, a Florida white supremacist was arrested for making his own public threats against a local Walmart. In Central Florida, there are large communities of people marginalized by the rhetoric Trump and others spew.
He has adamantly refused to acknowledge any lasting issue with his rhetoric even after it appeared, verbatim, in the manifesto of a mass shooter responsible for nationwide terror. Asked shortly after the incident whether he had any regret for condemning a nonexistent immigrant “invasion,” Trump indicated that he did not via abruptly launching into a defense of his position that undocumented immigration constitutes some kind of danger to American society.
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