Iowa City School District community members protest racial slurs in student video

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At an ICCSD board meeting, around 100 members of the Iowa City community raised concerns about a student using racial slurs in a video that surfaced on social media .

Gabby Drees

Community members react after a speaker spoke about racism in the Iowa City School District during a board meeting at the Iowa City Community School District Administration Building in Iowa City on Tuesday 9 November 2021. Community members protested after a video posted on social media of an Iowa City West High School student using a racial slur.

Nearly 100 students, teachers and community members of the Iowa City Community School District gathered to voice concerns about a video posted on social media of an Iowa City West high school student using racial insults.

After a demonstration at West High School on Monday, students and community members on Tuesday urged the ICCSD board to further discipline the student, who was suspended.

Many people raised concerns about safety and said the district has a history of racism.

“It just puts me in danger,” said Angel McCambry, grade 8 student at Iowa City South.

East Iowa High School. “It makes a lot of other kids feel insecure and I feel like the district isn’t doing enough to help. “

West High School principal Mitch Gross wrote in an email to parents at West High School on Monday after the protest that the district respects their commitment to social action and honors their right to freedom of action. ‘expression.

“However, much of today’s protest disrupted the learning environment at West High,” he wrote. “The administrative team made an effort to maintain a peaceful environment so that the learning could continue. ”

Later Monday, Gross wrote another email to parents saying the district would not tolerate racism, hatred and other discriminatory acts.

A protester holds a sign during a board meeting at the Iowa City Community School District administration building in Iowa City on Tuesday, November 9, 2021. Community members protested after a video was released on social media from an Iowa City West high school student using a racial slur. (Gabby Drees)

For an hour during the meeting, community members and current ICCSD students expressed frustration at the district’s inaction regarding other racist experiences they have personally experienced.

Former ICCSD student and current University of Iowa student Dasia Taylor told the board she has worked with administration for years and should have expected to something like that.

“I am disappointed and appalled by what happened,” Taylor said. “But I’m not surprised at all. I told you all.

Johnson County Board of Directors Royceann Porter, representing the Black Voices Project at the meeting, condemned the student’s actions but insisted “this is nothing new”.

“We will await a decisive response and consequences for the student who perpetrated this violence against his own classmates,” she told the board.

RELATED: Student-run Instagram accounts post stories of racism, homophobia and sexual assault in Iowa City schools

One of the Black Voices Project’s requests, Porter said, is for the school district to report the video, including the acts of racism and the threat of hate crimes, to local law enforcement.

Tori Cooper, a junior at West High School in Iowa City, said the school downplays racism.

“There has always been racism in West,” Cooper said. “They are still trying to shut it down. I just want justice.

Some board members, including President Shawn Eyestone and Vice-President Ruthina Malone, addressed community concerns and expressed support.

“Black lives matter, trans lives matter, gay lives matter,” said Malone, immediately after the public comment.

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