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Southington teen charged over racist message on social media

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SOUTHINGTON — A 17-year-old boy has been arrested in Southington and accused of posting a racist message on social media.

Police say the message was sent last week by a student at Southington High School.

The teenager was arrested Thursday and charged with breach of peace. He is to be arraigned next month in juvenile court. He was not identified because of his age.

Southington school officials say the video included charged language that implied support of violence against people of color. The video was shared in a private chat room before a personin the conversation posted it publicly.

Connecticut NAACP President Scot X. Esdaile sent FOX 61 the following statement:

“We are very disappointed with the State’s Attorney’s Office filing a weak breach of peace charge instead of charging this suspect with a hate crime. We are sick and tired of state’s attorneys across the state not prosecuting individuals for hate crimes who display blatantly racist behavior. We have reached out to Chief State’s Attorney Kevin Kane for a meeting to discuss how to stop racism from running rampant across the state of Connecticut.”

The chairman of Southington’s town council and the chairman of Southington’s board of education released the following letter to their constituents:

As your elected officials, we are writing to share our thoughts with all members of our community regarding the incident that occurred last week in which an individual created and released a horrendous video filled with hatred targeted at some of our friends and neighbors. That incident garnered a great deal of negative media attention and cast a shadow on our wonderful caring community. We are especially concerned for our children and families who were the targets of hate in this incident.

The Southington Police Department completed its investigation and took action today. In addition, there has been an increased police presence at schools within the Southington Community. The presence could be viewed as increased security, however, the presence is also designed to reduce the anxiety surrounding the recent events and help support the educational environment. By working together, we are sending a strong message that any form of hatred, violence, or bigotry will not be tolerated in the Southington Community.
While we will never be able to control the words, beliefs or actions of others, we can applaud the reactions of the many members of our community who have contacted officials to express their horror and condemnation of this event. We echo those sentiments. The response by our students, parents, members of our police department, and school officials should be applauded and is the true representation of the values of this community.

The Southington Town Council, Southington Board of Education, and all duly elected and appointed officials denounce the ideology represented in the video that was circulated on social media. We will never condone, support, or tolerate behavior or beliefs that espouse hatred, violence and bigotry. In collaboration with our public service agencies, we will continue to do our utmost to protect our students, physically and emotionally, and to teach a message of kindness, caring, and respect for all. We support the efforts, both short and long term, of elected officials and public-school officials to address the issues brought out by this event.
The strong partnership between the Southington Police Department and the Board of Education has been validated over the recent weeks. The Board of Education continues to share concerns from parents, community members, and students as they are received. This information is then reviewed and investigated, and the outcome shared to the extent possible. The Board of Education then provides updates to parents, staff, and students.

There are no easy solutions to the problems brought to the surface by this issue. In that respect, Southington is no different than any other community in this country that is wrestling with how to cope with the recent increase in these types of incidents nation-wide. However, we will band together as a community and continue to support the efforts of those individuals and agencies who seek to promote those values of caring, compassion and respect that we all hold as central to our beliefs.


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