Garfield students seek 'positive, respectful' dialogue after racist tweets

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by KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on March 12, 2014 at 12:44 PM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 12 at 1:39 PM

Positive, peaceful and respectful - that’s the direction Garfield High School students want to go with Issaquah High after racist tweets by some Issaquah students.

A group of Garfield students and student leaders held a news conference Wednesday morning, calling for Seattle and Issaquah schools districts to tackle the issue of racism.

The online insults happened during the heated state high school basketball playoffs.  A photo showed up on Facebook showing Issaquah's star guard and three Garfield High players and referee. A racist remark was made by the poster about the Garfield players and cheerleaders. Police uncovered 10 pages of additional tweets with derogatory terms for African-Americans.

STORY: Hoops rivalry turns racist in state HS basketball tournament

Garfield students were hurt and angered as the attention turned from the sport to social media insults.

Issaquah High School investigated the claims and posted an online apology.

“We are sincerely sorry for the hurtful actions by a few students who acted on their own,” said the online apology. “Thus far in our investigation, none of the varsity basketball players were involved in the tweets.”

Following the apology, student leaders reached out to student leaders and cheerleaders reached out to cheerleaders – all with the same goal: to get to know one another and heal.

Issaquah High’s principal said the students who made the remarks have been disciplined.

During Wednesday’s news conference, Garfield students called the incident heinous and said it is time to talk about racism - and not just with Issaquah High School or outside the Seattle School District. 

“Racism is in the classroom. It’s like the dirty secret that no one wants to talk about, and because of that, we are unable to move forward in a more open and welcoming and inviting environment,” said Mohammed Jagan, ASB Vice President and member of the Garfield Black Student Union.

Garfield students say they also want to address racism with Seattle Public Schools officials before the end of the year.

“I think it’s a start. Everything like this has to start somewhere and I hope that other schools and other students, communities see this and they can learn from this,” said Kellen Bryan, ASB President and Garfield basketball player.

Garfield students invited Issaquah High staff, student leaders and the students involved in the racist tweets to come together in a private meeting so they can get to know one another and start to restore the relationship.  Issaquah High’s principal confirmed they received an invitation to a dinner and they look forward to it.

 

KING 5's Charlotte Starck and Liza Javier contributed to this report.

 

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