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Eighth graders charged with hate crime for social media threats aimed at Black students

Published: Mar. 11, 2022 at 9:45 AM CST
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FREDERICK COUNTY, Md. (WUSA) - Three Maryland eighth graders have been charged as juveniles with a hate crime after threatening Black students.

“It’s very real, and I think that this finally, very graphically, brought to light what’s always been,” Melissa Perez said.

With three children in Frederick schools, Perez was furious when she saw the pictures of young boys that appear to be white threatening to shoot Black people, using a racial slur.

“These kids are serious about what they’re saying,” Perez said.

Yanira Gordon, the president of the parent teacher student association at Middletown middle school says her daughter, an eighth grader, was in the school when police detained the boys.

“She was terrified yesterday,” Gordon said. “Unfortunately, the image was released after the kids were in school, so the boys in the photo were in the school.”

Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins also urged parents to keep track of their children's cell phone activities. (Source: WUSA/CNN)

There were four pictures posted to Snapchat and Instagram, according to parents who found them.

The photos, according to police, show the boys holding real or fake guns and included text that read, “we’re finally going to shoot some (explicit)” and “slaves ran away.”

Sheriff’s deputies and school resource officers responded to the school Wednesday morning as soon as they learned about the threats.

They said they determined there was no immediate active danger from the boys, who were in school.

Deputies questioned the boys with their parents or guardians, searched their bedrooms and accounted for all the firearms.

Now, authorities announced the boys are facing hate crimes charges.

“They threatened to commit a crime of assault, so they’re threatening assault by the wording in the post against the African American community,” Lt. Jason Deater with the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office said. “So that’s what elevated it to the hate crime, motivated in whole or substantial part by the group’s race.”

Frederick County officials say the students are prohibited from entering the campus until the investigation is complete.

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