On Halloween, 2022, a student at Jones College Prep high school in Chicago came to school dressed in a costume resembling a Nazi uniform. Twitter user tmg__alex documented the event, and shared that the student in question has "a history of racist, sexist, and now anti-semitic behavior. he's been seen wearing clothing promoting anti-black slogans such as back the blue, blue lives matter, lets go brandon, etc." On Halloween, the student showed up dressed like a Nazi soldier—telling other students that he was "a german soldier from the 1940s" and school adminstrators that he was a "berlin wall patrol guard."
signed up and was allowed to walk on the stage, where he did the nazi goosewalk as well as the nazi salute (video below). the principal pulled him aside (photo) to talk to him about his outfit.
he didn't find the costume offensive, and the email neglected to comment on the anti semitic actions performed in the video. since this event people have taken their outrage to social media.
We have learned this week of yet another incident of prejudice at Jones College Prep, a Chicago Public Schools selective enrollment school that has been plagued for years with charges that include persistent racial intolerance.
In recent days, the principal has been suspended, according to the Chicago Sun Times:
The principal at Jones College Prep High School has been suspended and officials have launched an investigation after a student wore a German soldier's uniform to school on Halloween and goose-stepped onstage during a costume showcase.
The costume caused an uproar because it was widely interpreted to be the garb of a Nazi soldier. Distressed students pointed the costume out to their principal, Joseph Powers, but Powers explained to students the boy was dressed as a Communist-era East German soldier, Powers wrote Monday in a note to staff.
"I tried to explain the context and time period of the uniform to the students who spoke with me, but apparently the student who wore the uniform may have told people it was from the 1940s," Powers wrote.
Parents and students were highly critical of Powers' response to the incident, leading to Chicago Public Schools CEO Pedro Martinez handing down a suspension until the investigation plays out, saying "there must be accountability when harm occurs."
Principal Powers has since apologized. Again, the Chicago Sun Times:
On Thursday in an email to parents, Powers said the situation should have been handled differently.
"As more information has come to light, including additional video of the incident and through conversations with our staff and students, we realize that this has greatly impacted our community and acknowledge that we should have handled the incident with greater care and communicated more clearly with the school community about the nature of the incident," Powers said.
"Let me say clearly and plainly that what occurred caused harm to many of our students and staff who recognized this as an act of antisemitism. Let me also say clearly and plainly that intolerance, bigotry, and bias-based behaviors have no place in our school," Powers said.
It's deeply troubling that the principal's initial reaction, in a letter to parents (captured in this tweet), was to downplay the seriousness of this incident by calling the costume merely a "military surplus army uniform" and stating that anti-Semitism "was not the intent of the Halloween costume." However awful the principal's response, though, I am very much encouraged by the students' reactions: they booed loudly when the student in the Nazi uniform goose stepped across the stage.
Thanks, tmg__alex and the other JCP students who are so clearly expressing their outrage across social media and seeking to hold the student and school administration responsible for this vile act of anti-Semitism.