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West Monroe High School responds to racist viral video

VIDEO: Tense day at school after raciest video goes viral
A person in the video can be heard using a racial epithet in reference to Black residents while making a comment about locking her car doors.
Published: Jan. 21, 2022 at 9:14 AM CST|Updated: Jan. 21, 2022 at 9:54 AM CST
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WEST MONROE, La. (KNOE) - West Monroe High School has released a statement regarding the racist viral video that circulated online this week and the events that followed. The video appears to show a white student making derogatory remarks regarding Black neighbors and using a racial slur.

The statement went out Thursday evening on West Monroe High School letterhead, with principal Shelby Ainsworth’s name at the top.

The full statement is as follows:

“West Monroe, La., January 20, 2022 - Recent comments made in our community and posted to social media do not in any way reflect the feelings or teachings here at West Monroe High School. Much like our community, we were shocked by the language used in the video. This video, as well as the threatening responses to it, are being investigated by the school administration. While we are unable to comment on individual students - this matter is not taken lightly.

“West Monroe High School faculty and staff do not condone any form of racism. Our diverse student body and community believe that harmony and respect start with each of us. This type of language has no place in our school or our community. West Monroe High School has enjoyed much success in Academics, Arts, and Athletics – all made possible through the help and support of all our community. Please do not measure the character of our students or school through this one action. Young people make mistakes - as do we all. Our daily choices can either build or undermine unity. It is important that we learn from these mistakes and let lessons learned shape our character.

“West Monroe High School continues to resolve to be wholeheartedly devoted to the overall education of ALL our youth, while intentionally using our influence to add value to each student whose life we touch.”

The school also provided this link to a video of the statement.

The video caused an uproar among WMHS parents and students in the community. Rumors of threats began to circulate and on Wednesday, Jan. 19, parents started checking their children out due to fear of potential violence at the school. At the time, a school spokesperson said there was no ‘credible’ threat made at the school but there was an increase in law enforcement at the school as a precautionary measure. Notably, there is a West Monroe PD substation on campus, so police are a fixture in the area regardless of specific events happening at any given time.

This is not the first time WMHS has had to respond to racially-charged controversy. The school has been defending over the years its use of Confederate-inspired imagery and symbolism. In February last year, the school board decided to keep the school’s nickname, Rebels, and other symbolism when they were asked to consider the impact such symbolism had on the community.

At the time, Principal Ainsworth said they had already dropped the mascot itself and “basically eliminated the confederate flag from being flown on campus” so there was no need to change the name. He suggested changing the perspective of what the name stands for to “someone who exhibits courageous independence in thought and action.”

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