Albany students express anger, sadness after 'chaotic, crazy' meeting on racist Instagram

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ByLisa Amin Gulezian KGO logo
Friday, March 30, 2018
Albany students express anger, sadness after meeting on racist Instagram
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There was a large demonstration Thursday outside Albany High School behind the emergence of a racist Instagram account.

ALBANY, Calif. (KGO) -- There was a large demonstration Thursday outside Albany High School behind the emergence of a racist Instagram account.

RELATED: Racist Instagram page prompts protest, disgust at Albany High School

A short time ago, parents got an email from the district's superintendent, promising to investigate all of the allegations and also to consider new policies at the Apr. 18 school board meeting.

Anger surrounded a group of students as they tried to leave an on-campus meeting by car. Many believe they followed and liked a hate-filled Instagram page, which targeted mostly minority students.

"It was a picture of me compared to a gorilla," said Albany student Amber Jones.

The page no longer exists but was up two months before school officials found out about it. Those who made comments on the page were suspended and Thursday they were confronted by the students they made fun of.

"It was really chaotic and crazy and there was a lot of screaming," said another student Anika Mallard. "I don't know. It was overwhelming."

But outside, hundreds of students gathered for a sit-in and rally to say, 'enough is enough.'

"I've seen instances of homophobia, transphobia, and anti-Semitism that hasn't even been talked about," student Melia Palioca told ABC7 News.

Alexandria Campbell Jones' daughter was targeted on the Instagram site. She wants all of those involved expelled. "Do we need to find one of our children hanging from one of these trees for people to take this seriously," she said. "This is not a joke."

The district's superintendent promises to take all of this very seriously. In the meantime, Albany's Black Student Union will hold a rally Friday. Parents of the targeted students will meet school officials on campus.

You can read the superintendent's letter below:

Today students at Albany High School peacefully demonstrated their solidarity against intolerance, racism, and hatred. Also on campus today, the students involved in an incident that occurred last week participated in a restorative justice process. What was made clear from these separate but related actions is that the student body stands together in its message that our school stands for inclusion. To any questions concerning consequences for the students whose online conduct prompted these events, our district administration and legal counsel are closely examining all available options. Beyond that, I can offer no other comment at this time, as I must not only protect the fidelity of the process but also strictly observe all legal protocols and timelines so that the district can take swift and appropriate action.

Today, there was a student sit-in. I want to assure our community that the students' voices are heard. They exercised their right to gather, speak their minds and share their concerns. They were respectful throughout the day.

Our district has two clear calls to action. First, the incident that triggered this movement is being taken very seriously. To see that justice is done, we must follow the law. Second, I can see that what began as an intolerable social media incident has cast a spotlight on concerns about racism and intolerance on campus.

Now is the time for our district to begin the healing process. We are taking an honest look at the policies, practices and expectations that will underscore our commitment to safe and welcoming schools for all.

We are scheduling a Board meeting for April 18th where we will be discussing these policies.

I was informed that there were an altercations when students were exiting campus. We are gathering information and will conduct an investigation.

We want all Albany High School families to know that the school is on the a Monday bell schedule and the Freshman debates will continue as planned tomorrow.

Val Williams, Superintendent