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Screenshots of offensive social media posts inspire anger

November 13, 2020 - 00:00
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Screenshots of offensive social media posts that contained racial slurs found their way to Facebook and other social media platforms on the day following the general election last week. The posts were apparently inspired by the voting results for President Donald Trump with one post referring to the vote count in Pennsylvania and what might happen if the state “flips.”

Other posts suggested an impending civil war and others used language indirectly threatening members of the black community.

The names of the students who were involved in the group message were visible in the screenshots shared on social media.

Not long after the posts showed up on Facebook, they were being shared and discussed by hundreds of concerned Morgan County residents.

Morgan County High School principal Miki Edwards sent out a message to students and parents regarding the incident.

“It has been brought to our attention that some of our students have engaged in inappropriate, disrespectful and unacceptable behavior on social media,” Edwards wrote. “We have addressed the behaviors individually and dealt with them appropriately. MCHS does not tolerate insensitive language and values all students and families. We will continue to address any issues that disrupt our school and the sense of security our students deserve. We urge you to have a conversation with your student about the seriousness of using social media in this manner.”

Most of the reactions on Facebook strongly condemned the posts:

“I’m so sickened.”

“This is horrifying.”

“Sick...twisted... shocking...Must be addressed and dealt with immediately before the poison infects us all! Absolutely disgusting and totally unacceptable!”

One commenter complained that a double standard exists in Morgan County for consequences for white and black students.

“Sadly, this isn’t even surprising coming from Morgan County students...If the roles were switched, Morgan County would shut the whole school down and send the kids away.”

The commenter may have been referring to an incident that occurred in March of 2018 when a 17-year-old was arrested and charged with making terroristic threats, harassing communications and disrupting public schools after seven students at Morgan County High School received text messages from an APP messaging system that encouraged students to leave. The message was followed by a green gun emoji. All seven students received the text from a different number.

During the 2018 incident, the school resource officer was notified and Morgan County High School activated a level 2 lockdown while all other schools activated level 1 lockdown.

However, according to Morgan County’s Chief Deputy Keith Howard there are important distinctions between the incidents. The girl who was arrested was considered an adult and the text messages that were sent were directed to specific individuals while the social media posts in question were part of closed chat and not directed at anyone specific. In order to rise to the level of a crime, Howard said threats must target a specific individual or specific group. Some have suggested that the posts represent a hate crime, but Georgia does not have a hate crime statute as such, and such language as seen in the posts would only be considered by a judge as part of sentencing, not as a crime itself.

Howard said the Sheriff’s Office would aggressively react to anything that was assessed as a threat to any students or citizens in Morgan County.