Community activists held a press conference on June 13 at 11 a.m. at the African American Community Service Agency (AACSA) in San Jose regarding racially charged incidents at MVHS. The allegations stated that a group of MVHS students created a “kill list” in an online chat targeting African American students in September of 2016, and a picture was allegedly taken on a school computer screen in April 2017 with a message about killing African American people, which was presented at the conference. The speakers stood around a podium addressing community members and a crowd of cameras from media organizations including NBC Bay Area, The Mercury News, CBS San Francisco Bay Area, KTVU 2 and KRON 4.
On June 12 at 4:57 p.m., NBC Bay Area reported on a group of students from MVHS that allegedly created a “kill list” with the names of every African-American student at the school, which is 0.2 percent of the MVHS student population. The private Instagram chat in question came to the attention of the MVHS administration on Sept. 29, at which point administration took disciplinary action and passed screenshots of the chat on to the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office for investigation. The administration could not disclose the nature of the disciplinary action, as releasing the information to the public would violate the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) laws. A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed in October by El Estoque for the police report showed that while “deputies responded to school for online cyber bullying,” there was “no report taken.”
El Estoque published a news story about the chat on Oct. 19, which the editorial board voluntarily agreed to temporarily take down from its website and Issuu account on Feb. 8 at the request of the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s office as a result of a re-opened ongoing investigation. The investigation was reopened due to a former MVHS parent who claimed in February that her daughter was targeted in the chat, and said that she felt school administrators did not do enough to address the situation, including not contacting the parents of the kids whose names were listed on the “kill list.” The parent transferred her daughter to another school in the district, and filed a civil complaint against the Fremont Union High School District, which the district has not yet received.
The family’s attorney, Richard Richardson, also alleges that another racially charged incident occurred in April 2017 and involved a message on a school computer, which said that the writer’s goal for the day was to “Lynch n—–.” Richardson showed a picture at the conference. In light of both of these occurrences, the AACSA held the press conference, where Richardson talked about the future of the case in his desire to find out more about what happened and how he initially got involved.
Malick Brown, an educator and community activist, discussed why he felt this topic needed to be addressed in the community, due to the severity of the language in the chat discussion.
Brown believes that the safety of the students on campus should always come first.
“From an educator’s point of view, it’s not rocket science,” Brown said. “If students are put in environments in which they don’t feel safe, then they’re not going to be able to learn as much.”
Ross Pusey, who is part of both the Alliance of Black and Brown Advocates and the Black Leadership Kitchen Cabinet as well, said that occurrences like this are not anything new. Growing up as an African American student in San Jose, he said he constantly saw racial backlash against students.
He hopes that people will continue to speak out about racially charged actions.
“I’m really hoping for and looking for more newspaper groups from different high schools to really speak out about what’s really going on,” Pusey said.