Illinois police officers and authorities at a local school district are addressing the state’s second blackface scandal of the past month, in which three teenage students were spotted wearing blackface in public.
The Mokena Police Department was alerted on Saturday to the teens’ offensive “blackface masks,” which they donned at a Speedway gas station, Mokena police chief Steven Vaccaro told the Chicago Tribune. Officers investigating the suspects’ identities connected with local school administrators, and on Monday, Lincoln-Way High School District 210 spokeswoman Jen Hannon confirmed the district was working with the police department.
Vaccaro said that the police have closed their investigation after determining that no criminal acts took place. The department turned over all information on the case to a school resource officer from Lincoln-Way who was seeking information on the investigation.
Hannon refused to address whether Lincoln-Way administrators had identified the teens or contacted their parents, saying the district “does not discuss student matters.”
Photos of the teens at the gas station were allegedly circulating on social media during the investigation, and showed “three white teenagers sitting in a dark-colored sedan beside a gas pump with their faces painted black,” according to the Chicago Tribune.
The incident comes less than two weeks after four other white teenagers in Illinois filmed themselves going through a McDonald’s drive-through wearing blackface and shared the profanity-laced video on social media, where it went viral. The teens were students at Homewood-Flossmoor High School in Flossmoor, Ill., which called the stunt “highly offensive and culturally insensitive.”
Members of the community demanded discipline, with some even requesting that the students be expelled. A spokesperson for the school, Dr. Jerry Lee Anderson, sent parents and students a note assuring them that “what happened this weekend is taking very seriously by the administration.”
Unsatisfied with the response — and the administration’s refusal to discuss what action had been taken, per privacy laws — students staged a walkout at Homewood-Flossmoor on Wednesday. About 1,000 students participated. One student, Karina Duncan, told ABC 7, “The administration is honestly making it to be not a big thing and it really is.”
Yahoo Lifestyle has reached out the Mokena Police Department and the Lincoln-Way High School District 210 for further comment on the investigation.
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