Students at Arizona High School Disciplined After Reenacting George Floyd's Murder

Terrell Jermaine Starr
·3 min read
Shannon Haynes talks to her son Ronald Haynes, 9, about George Floyd in front of a memorial following the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial on April 20, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The former Minneapolis police officer was found guilty today on all three charges he faced in the death of Floyd last May.
Shannon Haynes talks to her son Ronald Haynes, 9, about George Floyd in front of a memorial following the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial on April 20, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The former Minneapolis police officer was found guilty today on all three charges he faced in the death of Floyd last May.

Students at an Arizona high school have been disciplined after a short video of them reenacting the murder of George Floyd began circulating on Twitter.

The six-second video posted last week shows a kid kneeling on the back of another student’s neck at Highland High School in Gilbert. Someone in the video says, “They’re demonstrating a Spanish word” and laughs. Both students reenacting the murder stand up in a classroom full of students. The Twitter post says that a Black girl was in the classroom at the time of the reenactment. In the replies, people condemned the racist incident and added that this type of behavior is common at the school, according to the Arizona Republic.

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A spokesman for the Gilbert Public Schools District said the incident has been dealt with.

“All breaches of Gilbert Public Schools student code of conduct are investigated to their full extent and district policies and procedures are followed to deliver consequences,” a statement from the district said. “Gilbert Public Schools strives to create communities of inclusion and any act of racism is in direct opposition to the values that we hold as a school district.”

Hanaan Abdulle, a senior at Highland High School and president of the school’s Black Student Union, said incidents like these “remind us where we are in our struggle” to make the high school a safe space for everyone.

“I don’t want to make it seem that the student recreating the murder of George Floyd is just a silly act of racism,” she said. “These aren’t mistakes, these are premeditated. This is a hate crime. This is a textbook hate crime.”

The Arizona Republic reports that such behavior is common in the area’s school system:

Over the past few years, students at Highland High have been accused of racist behavior such as two students using the “n-word” in a video and a photo with students posing with the “OK” hand gesture, which was designated as a hate symbol after white supremacists began using the gesture in photos. The district said the involved students in the video were disciplined.

Last year, The Arizona Republic also analyzed more than a dozen racist incidents at schools across metro Phoenix since 2016. Students of color interviewed by The Republic last year said racism is embedded in the culture of schools across metro Phoenix.

In an email sent by the school principal, parents were put on notice to have serious conversations with their children.

“Please take some time to reflect with your children on the power they have to positively impact the campus and the Hawk community,” the email said.