Authorities in Louisiana have arrested a White student who was filmed throwing cotton balls at a Black schoolmate and then proceeding to hit him with a belt. The unidentified White student was taken into custody on March 15 on hate crime and simple battery charges, the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s office announced, per WWL-TV.
The alleged hate crime incident occurred at the Vandebilt Catholic High School cafeteria on March 9. In the video of the incident, a White student is seen walking towards a Black student before throwing cotton balls at him from behind. The White student then goes ahead to repeatedly hit the Black student with a belt. The Black student, who is seated, then gets up and pushes the White student.
Sources reportedly said only a few Black students are enrolled at the school. The White student’s actions were also condemned by the school’s alumni and community members. “You know, we can’t sweep this under the rug. We can’t push this off and make this more skeletons in the closet,” PJ Allridge, a friend of the Black student’s family, said.
“That’s Vandebilt? Like, this is Vandebilt. Houma. Right here, not that far from where I live. A school that I went to, a school that I represent, a school that I coached at. And to see this, it’s hurting. That we’re living in a time such as 2022, to where it’s like we’re not in the 50s, we’re not in the 60s,” he added.
In the aftermath of the incident, the archdiocese released a statement saying the school doesn’t condone racism or bullying. “[March 9’s] actions by a few are not consistent with the values and mission of our school,” the statement said.
The Black student’s parents, in the statement, also expressed their gratitude for the support they received in the wake of the incident. “We will continue to pray for our school community as a whole, that we not only get through this together but that we each learn a valuable lesson from what has taken place,” they said.
Police said the suspect was taken to the Terrebonne Parish Juvenile Justice Center for booking.
This is Vanderbilt Catholic school in Houma, LA.
A white student threw cotton at a Black student and whipped him with a belt. Other white students laughed.
The Black student was sent home.
Tell me again how white youth are not racist like their parents and grandparents 🤔 pic.twitter.com/uQQ6jB5yP2
— Bishop Talbert Swan (@TalbertSwan) March 15, 2022