KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Two Kansas City-area community groups , the Jewish Community Relations Board/American Jewish Committee and the Urban League of Greater Kansas City, released a joint statement Wednesday denouncing racist and antisemitic social media posts sent by students at Bishop Miege High School.
We are saddened to learn of several highly disturbing racist and antisemitic messages and threats made by students at Bishop Miege High School. This is, of course, on the heels of antisemitic, racist, and homophobic vandalism at Blue Valley High School just last week. In the last several months, teenagers were involved in a similarly destructive, hate-ridden vandalism at the Dialogue Institute, a teacher at University Academy used the ‘N’ word, and we’ve seen numerous other incidents of antisemitism and racial hatred in schools throughout greater Kansas City.
Joint statement from the JCRB/AJC and Urban League
The incident at Bishop Miege, a private Catholic school in Roeland Park, was “alarming” and contained “inappropriate language and a threatening message,” according to a message sent to parents.
Roeland Park Police Chief John Morris told KSHB 41 several students were exchanging photos on Snapchat. He said three or four took some of the photos and added antisemitic and anti-Black remarks, including a swastika and multiple racist terms.
At least one message also included a threat to bring a gun to school, according to screenshots of the posts obtained by KSHB 41.
Morris said “one or more (students) is possibly going to get removed from the school on a permanent basis.”
KSHB 41 contacted Miege for more information, but had yet to receive a response.
No charges have been filed in the case, but Morris said the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department is in involved since some of the posts originated there.
“Still lots of work to be investigated upon but we have not find any factual information that there was a threat being planned to carry out,” Morris said via email.
KCPD would not confirm its involvement other than to say: ““We routinely will comply with requests from outside agencies to assist with their investigations. These requests can take many forms and are up to the investigating agencies to speak about the details of.”
The JCRB/AJC and Urban League said the problem of hate in the community isn’t new:
The fact that such hate exists in our society is a sad reality we all must face together. And to see such acts of hate, even amounting to threats, coming from our youth, is even more deeply troubling. Youth, after all, are our future. From our work with high school students, we know that these messages are not indicative of the majority of their generation — who are brilliant, compassionate, and educated leaders. Still, this pattern of incidents is disturbing, and should compel us all to action.
Statement from the JCRB/AJC and Urban League
The statement also encouraged parents to talk to their children about issues of race and religious hatred. The two groups are planning ways to provide forums for parents and students to have those difficult conversations.
“Finally, please know that organizations like JCRB|AJC and the Urban League are on the front lines, working tirelessly to counter this type of hate,” according to the statement. “In a world that pits our communities against each other, we must stand together. Thank you for standing with us.”
The joint statement was signed by JCRB/AJB Executive Director Gavriela Geller, JCRB/AJC Chair for Community Relations Bert Berkley and Urban League President and CEO Gwendolyn Grant.
Seven Days, a nonprofit founded by a survivor of the 2014 Jewish Community Center shooting in Kansas City, also issued a statement in the wake of the recent incidents:
SevenDays is about teaching kindness — and with the events of the last several days in our own community— we clearly have a lot of work left to do.
First, vandalism — including both racial and antisemitic slurs — was discovered at a southern Overland Park high school on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 16. Now the same kind of hateful messaging has taken place at Bishop Miege High School, a Catholic educational institution in Roeland Park.
Law enforcement authorities along with school officials are hard at work to find who committed these hurtful and damaging acts. We support their efforts to find the perpetrators. What those perpetrators need most is education to understand why their words and deeds are so destructive and how they can make change in a positive way.
Such hateful acts have no place in a world that should be built on kindness and inclusion, as King himself taught.
At SevenDays, we work to overcome hate by teaching kindness through education and dialogue. With a diverse board of directors comprised of people of various ages, races, faiths, ethnicities and genders, we are mindful of the many ways in which diversity in any group is a source of strength.
SevenDays® provides K-12 many free resources on how to practice kindness and embrace the diversity that is our Kansas City community. Our Kindness Youth Leadership Team – comprised of students from area public, private and parochial high schools – helps share these resources at their own schools.
You can be a ripple of kindness today. Our website, SevenDays.org, offers many ideas. Together — we shall overcome hate with kindness.
Mindy Corporon, president of Seven Days, and the board of directors
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