Black student locked to locker, fellow students walk off yelling "Slave for Sale!"

A 17-year-old African American student in Santa Monica, California (a beachside LA enclave known mostly for yoga, kombucha, surfers, and actors) was victimized by fellow students on his high school wrestling team. They assembled a mock-lynching scene with a wrestling dummy and a noose, then tackled the child, locked him to a locker, and walked away yelling "slave for sale!" Students took pictures on their cell phones, but "most if not all were deleted at the request of staff, according to multiple sources." Too bad: might have proved helpful in court. Sad understatement of the ages: an email from the school principal described it as "an incident with racial overtones." (via Harry Allen)


  1. Perhaps “might have proved helpful in court” will turn into “destroying evidence” at trial.

    1. I would hope so.

      The comments arising in the link Xeni gave paint a picture of a school already practising racial double standards, and it sounds like the incident could easily be prosecutable as a hate crime under California law, so it would not surprise me if the deletion order was in fact deliberate destruction of evidence.

  2. This is why I’m opposed to teaching History in our schools. Where do you think they picked up on this idea, huh?

  3. Idiots in action: “Hey bros, I got a funny idea: you know the black kid. . .let’s get ‘im!’

    Morons. Imbeciles.

    Makes me wish for a re-education program where strong bodies and weak minds go rebuild houses in the 9th Ward…

  4. Why not just transfer them to a school in Compton? The half hour bus ride would give them time to think.

    1. “half hour bus ride”

      In rush hour? On a school bus? Now there’s an optimist. The commute alone will be enough punishment.

      1. You mean Google Maps was inaccurate with it’s travel time estimate? I guess that explains why I keep arriving to things “fashionably late.”

        1. Gutierrez, Google Maps is not wrong. Look at the time estimates in your link, they all say 70-80minutes in traffic right below the half hour estimates. In LA, that’s the estimate you should be looking at.

    2. As long as you’re talking about the school officials too, who seem to be an integral part of the problem, then I’d say you’ve come up with the perfect solution.

  5. At some point, all those cuts to the quality of education that these children are receiving will eventually pay dividends, right?

  6. I don’t mean to de-emphasize the “racial overtones”, but I hope they address hazing after they address the racism. He might not have been the only wrestler attacked or stuffed in a locker this year/month/week.

    1. Hazing definitely deserves attention and I appreciate your statement about not wanting to de-emphasize the racial overtones. Still, the two really aren’t tantamount—even if the conscious intention of the perpetrators was “the same” (to the extent that’s likely, or even possible). The impact of a hate-based assault go far beyond the circumstances and the number of people who feel the impact is greater than with “normal” hazing (did I just use those two words in sequence?).

      I hope the school’s follow-up action is decidedly less passive.

  7. @cratermoon

    I would think that an arrest or a trial would have to be established before any destruction of materials was considered illegal.

    Either way, these jerks need to be taught a hard lesson.

  8. This makes national news now? Things of this degree or worse happened at my HS during the 90s nearly constantly. I mean, I don’t mean to say this isn’t a bad thing – it is; but, it honestly surprises me that this got picked up on a national level.

    1. Consider it positive.

      If national journalists feel racist bullying is an issue, then hopefully it’s not normal anymore, or soon won’t be…

  9. I can understand the dilemma of the school staff- on the one hand those photos were potentially valuable as evidence. On the other hand the adults were probably genuinely concerned about the potential of those photos for causing even more humiliation to an already-victimized kid. At any rate they probably didn’t have a lot of time to think it over.

  10. What about confiscating the phones because they held evidence and, in some cases, were tools used as part of the hate crime?

    1. What about confiscating the phones because they held evidence and, in some cases, were tools used as part of the hate crime?

      That would have been another response to consider, but if they had done so it would have lead to complaints of students being deprived of private property without due process as well as potential invasion of privacy. Who knows what other private photos/texts/emails those students might have on those phones?

      Besides, the school staff likely didn’t know WHICH students had photos on their phones since they (presumably) weren’t around when the event itself took place. What to do, confiscate all phones and demand that students surrender any passwords and unlock codes so that staff could sift through their contents?

  11. You know, normally destruction of evidence pertaining to a crime is a crime.

    I would think that evidence only becomes evidence when a case is pending or in motion. For example, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a murderer also being convicted of destroying evidence by getting rid of a body before an arrest was made.

    Would be interesting to get clarification. (Don’t have time to look it up myself right now.)

  12. ‘Students took pictures on their cell phones, but “most if not all were deleted at the request of staff, according to multiple sources.” Too bad: might have proved helpful in court.’

    At the request of staff? Which ‘staff’? Principals are in the habit of quickly eliminating or ignoring any problem or event that may give the appearance that the ‘staff’ have disciplinary issues in their schools that they can’t control. Talk to teachers and ask them if they feel confident the schools administrators will back their play when dealing with unruly students, especially in wealthy communities.

    Sensitivity for the black student? – maybe, but it stinks of knee-jerk ass-covering.

  13. I was born and raised in Alabama but I’ve since moved on. I’m proud to be from there as there is a ton of history, both good and bad, in my hometown of Montgomery. However, there is no shortage of comments from people about how backwards and racist folks are from the South.

    Although this is a horrid and despicable act it should be a reminder that racism is not something that happens somewhere else or is limited to the South. It happens everywhere all the time. I now live in Texas and these days it’s looking more and more like brown is the new black. Sigh…

  14. Santa Monica, California (a beachside LA enclave known mostly for yoga, kombucha, surfers, and actors)

    I guess you can surf in Santa Monica, but I’ve never known for there to be much of a surfer culture there. It’s more known for rent control, the Third Street Promenade, progressive politics, and being the 16-years-on-the-lam home of Boston mob boss Whitey Bulger.

    1. Santa Monica has not been known for rent control since 2000, when it was unfortunately scrapped. Only people that were renting before the cutoff date (i think 96?) are grandfathered in. The dissolution of rent control actually changed the socioeconomic makeup of the city quite drastically. When I first lived in SM, there was much more of a working class. When rent control was taken away, rents doubled and tripled overnight, pushing out most middle class renters.

      Here is the racial makeup of SMHS (“Samohi” as they call it) as of 2000. It’s likely changed a bit:

      From the comments in the article, it sounds like the school administration may have a history of favoring whites and looking the other way.

    2. Surfer culture is big in SaMo. Not so much surfing spots themselves, but surfers, as i wrote.

      1. OK, I was thinking more of the area north of the pier, but south of the pier and the Civic Center in Ocean Park, that’s pretty surfery, being adjacent to Venice and such.

    3. I also would say ridiculous meter cops with very high parking fines. Not sure about the kombucha. Have to check that out (whatever it is..heh)

  15. Since moving to southern California I’ve been constantly surprised at some of the people I meet here. People from outside CA have certain ideas about what Californians are like, and while a lot of it is true, a huge percentage of the population (75%+) is just the same as the people everywhere else in the US, if not *worse*. But, I’m happy to say that I’m more stereotypically Californian than most people, even though I’m from New York :)

    1. Very true. People seem to equate the entire state with “liberal hollywood” and “bagdad by the bay”. Not hardly. I always tell these people to drive through the central valley sometime. Or spend some time in Orange County. Or East San Diego County:
      I used to work with a guy that was born and raised in Memphis, TN and spent a lot of time in the south. He told me the only time he was ever called the N word was in El Cajon, CA (which admittedly is a complete shithole) and that didn’t shock me in the least.
      I know this is what they call an isolated incident, but it still saddens me greatly.

  16. I’m sure making sure there was no evidence in case this turned into a lawsuit against the school was exactly what the school staff had in mind when they had them delete the pictures.

    Instinct #1 for school administrators is cover your ass.

  17. Here are a few questions regarding this story I would like to have seen answered. Was Gray on the junior or varsity team?
    What weight class was he wrestling in? Was he winning his matches? Did he have any interest in moving up or down in weight? If so, who would he have bumped from their spot?

    I was interested to see that one of the wrestlers involved was reportedly home-schooled. We were living outside a little town in Washington state. Down the street was a family with eight kids, all home-schooled. One of the middle boys was recruited by the high school wrestling coach to play in a weight class he had a problem filling. The kid was big. Given how mean and competitive small towns can be, I worried a bit for the big ‘softie’. My dad coached high school wrestling for 25 years; I’ve observed the behavior of a lot of wrestlers. I didn’t think the boy had the heart for the sport, but he did okay. I think his experience on the team would have been quite different had he been recruited to wrestle at 148 or 154.

    So, was this a hate-crime? Technically – yes. But I doubt it was the motive, rather racism was the strategy and the weapon, and from where I’m sitting, the tactics worked well. Beyond that the story we’re reading here it about ass-covering, aka ‘zero tolerance’. Administrators can just react, they don’t have to think.

  18. “Santa Monica, California (a beachside LA enclave known mostly for yoga, kombucha, surfers, and actors”

    I love generalizations like these. Seattle is a “liberal haven” but there’s still a ton of people who live in the suburbs who hold hateful, bigoted opinions.

  19. For the info of some who blame this incident on the teaching of history in school, a famous quote from poet and philosopher George Santayana: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

  20. I’d say the real problem is that these kids seem to only remember a fraction of their history class, and clearly not the part that mattered – the generations of cultural fallout, conflict, and inhumanity that resulted from slavery. Clearly there should not be less teaching of history, but more reflection on the consequences of our past.

  21. this kind of thing when on all the time in my high school… so this one was races… it was always whatever the kid had different about them… or what ever their buttons were.. the worst of this was coach welsh… the entire football team could get away with anything!

    I graduated from atascadero high in atascadero californa in 1983…

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