Noose, Confederate flag found in Chesapeake student's truck on anniversary of King's assassination

Rachael Pacella

Chesapeake High School officials found a noose hanging from the rear-view mirror of a student’s truck and a Confederate flag in the bed Wednesday — the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination.

In a letter to parents, Principal Stephen Gorski said before school began, a staff member saw a pick-up truck driving through the school’s parking lot with a Confederate flag flying from the back.

An administrator and the school’s two resource officers found the truck in the parking lot, with the flag in its bed, Gorski said. They also saw a noose and a pair of dice decorated with Confederate flags hanging from the vehicle’s rear-view mirror.

This is the latest in a series of incidents at the Pasadena school. Before students left for spring break, a custodian found a racial slur carved into a stall in a boys’ bathroom, according to a different letter from Gorski. Both religious and racial slurs were found in other parts of the school in March, and in February a threat was made against the school specifically targeting African-American students.

“To have it happen today, in the wake of the string of incidents that have occurred at Chesapeake and in particular on a day when we commemorate the assassination of one of the world’s most iconic civil rights leaders, is absolutely sickening,” Anne Arundel County Public Schools spokesman Bob Mosier said.

Gorski said the student will be disciplined according to the system’s Code of Conduct.

Mosier said the school’s code doesn’t specifically address the use of the Confederate flag, but it doesn’t allow for anything that would disrupt school. Chesapeake’s long-standing practice has been to ask students to remove items of clothing that include the Confederate flag.

“Actions that portray bias, discrimination or hate have absolutely no place in our community and certainly have no place in our school or any school,” Gorski said.

Anne Arundel County police spokeswoman Sgt. Jackie Davis said they are not investigating the incident, as county police ran the situation by the state’s attorney’s office and were told nothing criminal occurred.

In his letter, Gorski once again urged parents to speak with their children. The school wants to cultivate an environment where every student can thrive, he said.

“I implore you to talk to your child about the kind of school I believe we all want Chesapeake High School to be,” he wrote. “I do not believe that we want our headlines to be about nooses, racial slurs and intolerance.”

Chesapeake High has a relatively small African-American population. Countywide more than 20 percent of students are African-American, according to state figures, while at Chesapeake less than 5 percent of students are African-American.

Mosier said Wednesday’s incident started in the community and came to the doorstep of Chesapeake High. The school system plays a part in addressing the issue, but parents, grandparents, clergy, business owners and community members all need to take part in saying they won’t tolerate this type of behavior, he said.

“These are conversations that have to happen at homes, and mindsets that have to change,” Mosier said.

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