A South Carolina teenager is facing expulsion from school for posting a picture on the social media platform Snapchat in which she displayed a gun and held a sign with a racial slur, Yahoo News is reporting.
On Tuesday, school officials at Hillcrest High School in Greenville County became aware of a Snapchat post from a student. In the photo, a teenage girl is seen holding a firearm in her left hand, and a sign in her right.
“We hang n*****s for free.”
The message was followed by a drawing of a smiley face.
When school officials learned of the photo, says a spokesperson for Greenville County Schools, she was told to stay home from school. This was done not for disciplinary reasons, but for her safety. Police officials were also notified about the issue.
“Students who were upset by the post were directed to school counselors,” the spokesperson said.
Did She Commit A Crime?
Police determined that the teen’s actions don’t violate any laws.
Specifically, posting a photo of herself holding a weapon is considered free speech that’s protected under the First Amendment. She is not a felon, so she is not forbidden from being in possession of firearms. Similarly, the use of the N-word, though disturbing, is also protected free speech.
What’s more, her post doesn’t appear, at least to authorities, to be a direct or specific threat, or even a generalized one. Had she named names, threatened a school shooting, or mentioned a plan, she could likely face criminal charges. But as-is, her post is not a crime, says a spokesperson for the Simpsonville Police Department.
“During the course of the investigation, the Simpsonville Police concluded there were no credible threats to any students or staff at Hillcrest High School.”
Will She Face Discipline At School?
Reportedly, she has. She has already been suspended, pending an expulsion hearing, according to a statement from the Greenville County School District. However, the district is unlikely to say any more, considering that public schools generally are forbidden from discussing student discipline with the media.
The Community Reacts
Reverend J.M. Flemming, the president of the Greenville Branch of the NAACP, said that he hopes the girl is expelled.
“We are saddened to hear of a racial attack on blacks by a white student in Greenville County Schools. This shows the issue of racism is very real since this youth was not born during times of civil rights era then racial hatred is embedded.”
Similarly, an area resident who asked not to be identified says the whole situation makes him “mad as hell.”
“That student is old enough to know better,” he said.