The day after the Nashville Football Hornets’ winning game against Massac County High School, some team members posted two videos on social media depicting them lighting a placard of a teammate’s helmet on fire.
“We are continuing to look at it. If there are violations of our policies then we will act,” Nashville High School Principal Mark Begando said.
The investigation centers on two football players seen on the videos that were posted to the social media site Snapchat.
In the videos, which were obtained by the Belleville News-Democrat, a player holds a placard with the name and number of the player, who is biracial, then lights it on fire while another teen comes behind him with his arms outstretched. In that video, someone can be heard saying “make it a cross.” The video has the caption “Making a sacrifice.”
The placard had been posted on an electric pole near the school by the Friends of Hornet Football, the team’s booster club.
Police interviewed the player and his mother, who said they did not feel it was a hate crime, but was “just kids being kids,” according to a police report.
A Nashville High School staff member contacted police Sunday to report the theft of the placard. The teacher was made aware of the incident through social media and wanted police to look into whether the incident was racially motivated.
We are continuing to look at it. If there are violations of our policies then we will act.
Nashville High School Principal Mark Begando
Nashville Police Chief Brian Fletcher said his department investigated the theft of the placard, but the booster club declined to prosecute the theft. Information gained during the theft investigation revealed that the burning occurred either in Washington County or Jefferson County, Fletcher said. The sheriff’s department did not return reporters’ calls.
A picture also posted on Snapchat showed a team member drinking a beer with the caption “next Nashville superintendent looking at well-developed assets.” The caption refers to a column written by Nashville School District 99 Superintendent Ernie Fowler for The Nashville News on Aug. 30 about his experience playing volleyball during a P.E. class when he was 15 years old. He described being positioned across from the “girl of my high school fantasy world.”
“My eyes were in direct line with her well-developed assets which were hidden under a T-shirt with the word ‘bullets’ sprawled across the front,” Fowler wrote.
The column drew media attention and local criticism of Fowler, with the teachers’ union calling for Fowler to be fired.
The Nashville School Board met in special session Wednesday night on “personnel issues and student discipline” but no action was taken.
Another picture accompanying the videos shows the teens smoking. Still another picture shows a teen holding the helmet with the caption “takin’ out the trash.”
Begando said there are two ways to look at the behavior seen on the videos: One is how it compares to overall school policy, and another is how it compares to the student code of conduct.
At the current time the investigation appears to be limited to the two players, but Begando said “as information rolls in, we will continue to evaluate it.”