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Protest at Philadelphia Catholic school over racially charged video

Racist video involving Saint Hubert students sparks outrage
Racist video involving Saint Hubert students sparks outrage 02:10

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- The Archdiocese of Philadelphia is taking action after a racist video was posted to social media involving students at St. Hubert Catholic High School. 

A protest was held Wednesday after the release of a racially charged video that showed a Philadelphia Catholic school student spray painting another student's face black and making racist remarks.

The video at St. Hubert Catholic High School for Girls has families concerned. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia is trying to pinpoint who is behind the video. Officials believe that it shows St. Hubert students, but a spokesperson says that one of the students in the video is not a St. Hubert student.

The archdiocese says the students allegedly involved have been disciplined.

"If they do not do anything, remove your kids today," one protester said.

CBS News Philadelphia has blurred the video because it contains juveniles and contains offensive language.

In the video, you can hear two female students laughing and saying phrases including "you're a Black girl," "know your roots, it's February," "you're nothing but a slave" and "I'm Black and I'm proud."

Franklin Towne Charter Schools released a statement about the incident;

"The Franklin Towne Community is both saddened and appalled by the events surrounding the racist video that has been on social media. We want to again take this opportunity to condemn this type of hateful behavior and condemn anyone involved in it. 
Franklin Towne is a school that values inclusion and will not tolerate hate in any manner. The former student who took part in this video, and any other students who may choose to participate in this type of behavior have no place at our school. The content of this video does not reflect the values and culture of our Towne family."

Demonstrators were out in front of the school in Holmesburg Wednesday morning holding signs that read "hate hurts," "condemn and confront white supremacy," "where is your humanity" and "prejudice creates pain."

"I felt outraged and I felt like I was hurt for the first time," parent Nikole Hines said.

"I just thought when I saw the video that it was complete ignorance," protest organizer Adam McNeil said. "I watched and I was completely confused that we still have so much blatant racism in 2023. And then to know that the students not only made this video in mockery of Black people in Black History Month but they took the time to send it to their fellow students, which to me was the straw that broke the camel's back."

"We have to stand together as a community to show that racism is not acceptable in any place, whether it's in school, whether it's in work. But to know that our children are displaying this racism only has me question, who are their parents? What do their parents teach them, what is the resolution going to be behind this tragedy?" McNeil added.


McNeil said he wants the students to be charged with a hate crime.

"We want them to know what accountability is, and what accountability looks like, and what trauma looks like when it is set upon somebody else that did nothing to you," McNeil said. "We want them charged. This is a hate crime. This is ethnic intimidation."

"There's many young students that go to this school that are Black and Brown," McNeil added. "How do you think that they feel everyday now walking into school knowing that their classmates are racist? And if the school does not dismiss these students immediately, it just shows their lack of value for their own Black students that they have here, and that is unacceptable."

Now, the Philadelphia branch of the NAACP says it's drafting a letter urging the school to increase education on Black history as the community tries to heal.

"When you know the history then you're able to understand it better," Catherine Hicks said. "These young girls saying this was done as a joke or in jest or whatever, well it's not funny when it comes to the Black community."

Parents and former students sounded off as well.

"Take action," former student Julissa Lewis said. "The girls that are in the video should not be in school. The administration needs to step their game up and put some force into this system. This is messed up....It's really devastating."

"It's a diverse school, I think they are really a great community of girls," parent Jennifer Grega said. "And I don't think a couple young children's actions speak of what the school is."

Protesters gather outside St. Hubert's High School after racially-charged video released 02:42

After the video surfaced, the school's president and principal released a statement, saying in part: "We view racism as a mortal sin. There is no place for it in our hearts and minds and there is no tolerance for such behavior at Saint Hubert's."

"Please be assured that this matter is being actively investigated," the Archdiocese of Philadelphia said in a separate statement. "All those responsible will be disciplined appropriately in accordance with our school handbook."

Here is the full statement from the archdiocese:

"Yesterday, administrators from Saint Hubert Catholic High School for Girls were made aware that three members of the student body created a racially charged video and shared it on a social media platform. These actions were undertaken outside of school and after school hours.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia and Saint Hubert's are extremely disappointed and disheartened that anyone connected with a Catholic school would engage in such vile behavior.

We recognize and understand that the actions of these students have reopened societal wounds in a deeply painful way. Those allegedly responsible are not present in school and are being disciplined appropriately. The school and the Office of Catholic Education are conducting an ongoing review. Should that process determine involvement by any other students, they will also face disciplinary action.

We take this opportunity to be abundantly clear that there is no place for hate, racism, or bigotry at Saint Hubert's or in any Catholic school.  It is not acceptable under any circumstances or at any time.  The use of any racial epithet is inconsistent with our values to treat all people with charity, decency, and respect. Not only is the behavior in question a violation of our code of conduct, but it also constitutes a violation of the Responsible Use Policy of Technology policy that applies to students both inside and outside of school.

Our schools take pride in their long history of being welcoming and culturally diverse communities which empowers young people to become contributing members of the Church and society. 

Prior to this incident, Saint Hubert's had been working closely with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to provide intensive programming for our school that would lead to a "No Place for Hate" designation. The school is seeking additional support from the ADL at this time and is also seeking resources from the Archbishop's Commission on Racial Healing, which has been actively working throughout the five-county Philadelphia region for over a year.  Counseling services will also continue to be available for any student who may wish to utilize them.
Yesterday afternoon, reactionary general threats were made against the safety of the Saint Hubert's school community as result of the video that surfaced on social media. All threats against any school are taken seriously and they were immediately reported to law enforcement. We are grateful to the Philadelphia Police Department for their strong presence on the Saint Hubert campus today as well as their ongoing guidance.

Based on advice from the PPD, there will be no extracurricular activities on campus for the remainder of the week. Out of an abundance of caution and for the welfare of the school community, it will operate on a Flexible Instruction Day schedule for the remainder of the week. Students will be given assignments to complete at home and their teachers will be available via email to answer questions."

According to its website, St. Hubert is the largest Catholic girls' school in the city, drawing students from Philadelphia, the surrounding counties in Pennsylvania and South Jersey.

All extracurricular activities have been canceled for the rest of the week and students will also have flexible instruction from home out of an abundance of caution due to the threats.

The archdiocese also says it's working with the Anti-Defamation League for new programming and support on racial healing.

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