Snapchat, social media, slavery, slave trade

They Did What?! Massachusetts Teens Charged With Racial Bullying For Holding Fake Slave Trade On Snapchat

Glad this district attorney is taking action...

A Massachusetts district attorney is charging six teenagers with racial online bullying for their involvement in a mock slave auction on Snapchat. 

Following the conclusion of an investigation, the teens face several charges, including a threat to commit a crime. Two of the minors are being charged with interference with civil rights, and one of the two added charges of witness interference. Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni released a statement via Facebook on March 14, saying the students from Southwick Regional School allegedly participated in a “hateful, racist online” social media discussion between Feb. 8 and Feb. 9. 

The incident involved “heinous” language and threats of “violence toward people of color.” The alarming findings authorized members of the Detective Unit and the Chief of the Juvenile Court Unit to seek criminal charges against the juveniles.

“Hatred and racism have no place in this community. And where this behavior becomes criminal, I will ensure that we act, and act with swift resolve, as we did here, to uncover it and bring it to the light of justice,” Gulluni wrote. 

“There is no question that the alleged behavior of these six juveniles is vile, cruel, and contemptible.”

Gulluni was made aware of the incident on Feb. 15 and immediately prompted the Massachusetts State Police Detective Unit to investigate. The investigation found the chat was created by a group of 8th-grade students who expressed “hateful and racist comments,” including racial slurs, derogatory pictures, and videos. 

The mock slave auction was specifically directed at two juveniles.

After the school district was made aware of the matter, several participants, including the six charged, were suspended as an emergency removal, per state law, on Feb. 12. Days later, several students faced formal suspension — two for 25 days and one for 45 days. 

According to The Associated Press, Snapchat deletes one-on-one messages and group chats entirely after recipients view them. However, the company still advises users that screenshots or other saving methods can preserve messages

Gulluni said he personally met with the victims and their families and is disappointed that things like this are still happening in 2024. “Seeing it and facing the reality that these thoughts, that this ugliness, can exist within middle school students, here, in this community, in 2024 is discouraging, unsettling, and deeply frustrating,” he added.

In conclusion of his statement, Gulluni listed his plan “to attack this problem in Hampden County with the hope that we can prevent future harm, encourage empathy, and build stronger communities free of hate.” In addition to having conversations with Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Campbell and a law enforcement unit called HART, standing for Hate-crimes Awareness and Response Team, the DA wants to add a curriculum surrounding hate and bullying. 

Starting with the Southwick school community, Gulluni hopes the program will address the status of harmful forces of bigotry, racism, and bullying in schools.

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