Washburn High School students hang dark-skinned doll, post pics - KMSP-TV

Washburn High School students hang dark-skinned doll, post pictures

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The principal of Washburn High School says school leaders are responding aggressively to an act of racial insensitivity after a group of four students hung a dark-skinned baby doll by its neck with a piece of string on campus and shared pictures on social media.

Principal Carol Markham-Cousins sent a message home to parents about the incident, which she characterized as "extremely disturbing."

Officials say the incident took place on Jan. 11 at the school, and was captured on security cameras. Markham-Cousins learned about it the same day and took immediate action following the district's code of conduct.

"An image such as the one described causes feelings of anger and humiliation, and we intend to provide a safe space for productive conversations to take place," she wrote.

She continued to say the incident is not reflective of the Miller Pride promoted by the school, adding, "such insensitive behavior is intolerable in our school and school district, both of which are full of diversity and rich in culture."

Citing the gravity of the act, Markham-Cousins said the school is responding in the following ways:

  1. Discipline the students according to the district code of conduct.
  2. Create opportunities for the students involved to take responsibility via "restorative measures."
  3. Seeking opportunities for students to work with community partners providing support services.
  4. Promote open dialogue between students and staff to talk about race and respect.

Markham-Cousins also urged parents to teach their children how to use social media appropriately and report abuse to website administrators and trusted adults in the school or elsewhere.

In a statement released on Thursday, Minneapolis Public Schools said the specific disciplinary actions that were taken would not be shared due to student privacy concerns.

"Our schools are very diverse in Minneapolis -- 70% communities of color," said Stan Alleyne. "We are very familiar with being in diverse environments and pride ourselves on handling that. This is something that we cannot tolerate, and we are moving forward and educating where we need to."

Images taken on cell phones continued to pass through social media.That's something local activist K.G. Wilson calls racial bullying.

"It don't matter if we go here or work here. We are people who are concerned about all the children in the state of Minnesota and their safety," said Wilson.

By Thursday afternoon, the district spotted some perceived threats on social media too. Several posts on Twitter called for people to come to a regularly scheduled site meeting at the school, and other reports claimed a group of neo-Nazis intended to invade. As a safety precaution, the district canceled all after school activities.

"Anytime you hear any kind of threat, you have to check it out. So, that' s what they did," said Alleyne. "It's unfortunate because we had to cancel after school activities, sporting. I think there were three basketball games scheduled. That ended up hurting the students, but we can't take a chance in this day in time."

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