Riverdale’s KJ Apa isn’t the only one to get in trouble for liking a problematic Instagram post. Four California high school students have been suspended for hitting the “like” button on racist Instagram posts. They’re now involved in a federal lawsuit against the Albany High School administration for allegedly parading them through the school for other students to mock as part of a so-called “healing exercise.”
The four teenagers involved in the lawsuit are among more than a dozen Albany High School students, in central California, who were accused of “liking” or commenting on racist Instagram statuses, some of which showed pictures of female African American classmates and their basketball coach photoshopped with nooses around their necks. Other highly offensive images mocked the African American students for their appearance and compared them to apes.
According to SF Gate, the photos, which surfaced in March, came to the attention of school administrators after the African American girls’ classmates discovered them on a private Instagram account and reported them. The discovery prompted over a dozen students to receive suspensions for their involvement in “liking” the posts or commenting on them.
The lawsuit charges that the school’s method of dealing with the controversy culminated in an “atonement” or “healing” exercise on March 30. Orchestrated by the school administrators, 15 students who returned from their suspensions were allegedly “lined up in full view” in a makeshift public square to be screamed at by angry students as a form of public shaming.
The suit further says that school administrators did not provide adequate security for the students, causing two of them to be physically assaulted. The “shaming” exercise was only stopped after a parent of one of the affected students complained about it.
“The school humiliated our clients and put them in a position of danger where several were assaulted,” said attorney Alan Beck, who is pursuing the case for the four unnamed students.
The suit also accuses the school of violating the students’ First Amendment rights by punishing them for “liking” the racist Instagram posts, and demands that the students be allowed to makeup coursework missed during their suspensions.
The only way the school could have made the situation any worse is if they had placed the 15 students in stocks or pillories and provided onlookers with rotten tomatoes.