A Pennsylvania teenager is facing charges for allegedly posting a racist Snapchat video in which the white Saucon Valley High School student calls a black student a racial slur.
Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli announced Tuesday the 14-year-old is charged with cyber harassment of a child and ethnic intimidation.
“Harassment, whether it’s based on race or otherwise, is a crime,” Morganelli said.
The 14-year-old student recorded a 16-year-old black student eating chicken wings at lunch and posted it on Snapchat, investigators say. In the video, the white student allegedly calls the black student the N-word and jokes that he was on welfare.
“He said, ‘Look at that f------ n------, you know he’s on welfare. He probably can’t even buy any chicken,’” said Al Rivers, a friend of the black student’s family.
The black student was charged in juvenile court after he allegedly retaliated against the white student and attacked him during a Saucon Valley High School football game in October, 2016. The black teen’s attorney, Gary Asteak, said authorities acted insensitively to the racial aspects of the incident when they initially charged his client but didn’t charge the white student for the video.
Rivers told NBC10 the video was just one of many racist attacks against the black student.
“He had been going through some stuff for some years,” Rivers said. “One student actually threw a confederate flag at him. There were other slurs.”
Morganelli also said during Tuesday’s news conference that racist incidents have occurred at Saucon Valley High School for months, claiming a group of white students calling themselves “the rednecks” were harassing black students at the school. Morganelli said he hopes the charges against the 14-year-old student send a message.
“It sends a message that this kind of conduct will not be tolerated and hopefully it’ll break up the loose organization of boys who feel like they want to be part of some sort of organization,” he said.
Rivers believes the Saucon Valley school district needs to do more to create an inclusive community and establish a zero tolerance policy for racism.
“A zero tolerance policy will help everybody up at the school and help all of them coexist in there,” he said.
NBC10 reached out to the Saucon Valley School District for comment. We have not yet heard back from them.
Morganelli says both the black student and the white student are facing a probation-like program in juvenile court.
Asteak praised Morganelli's decision to pursue charges against the boy who made the video.
"Hate speech has no place in our society, certainly not in our schools," he told lehighvalleylive.com.
The white student's attorney, Michael Moyer, told The Morning Call that the recording was "offensive, no question." But he said that "as offensive as the video was, physically assaulting someone is worse."
Moyer said his client suffered a concussion after being kicked and punched during the fight and continues to receive physical therapy.
The prosecutor said the 14-year-old will likely have to attend a racial sensitivity program.