The students say it was a joke, but many people are outright angry.
Captioned “we got us one,” a photograph showing six white high school students stepping on top of a black student has made the rounds on social media, according to AL.com. As noted by the outlet, it’s unknown when exactly the photo was posted online.
The students all attend Moody High School in St. Louis County, Alabama, according to WBRC. Principal Christoper Walters released a statement about the photograph, which he described as “offensive and unacceptable.”
In his statement, Walter wrote that the photograph was taken on the school’s spirit day — when students were asked to dress up in the theme of either New Orleans, Hollywood, Dallas or Hawaii. According to CBS42, some interpreted the “Dallas” theme as redneck.
But after talking to the students, Walter wrote that there didn’t appear to be any malicious intent in the image.
“We have confirmed that the students involved are friends and participated voluntarily in creating the picture, which they say was intended to be a joke,” he wrote, according to WBRC.
The black student in the image confirmed that the photograph was intended to be humorous, according to CBS42.
“I didn’t think about it when we first took the photos,” he said. “I would still like to say sorry again to anyone that I offended.”
In a tearful interview with CBS42, the mother of one of the white students said she has received death threats because of the image. She said she is “so sick of the threats and the bull crap.”
“They were really making fun of racist people,” she told the TV station.
Jenny Seals, St. Clair County superintendent, wrote in a statement that the photograph is still serious, even if it wasn’t supposed to be that serious.
“All students involved will be disciplined appropriately,” she wrote, according to WBRC. “We will continue to educate our students on the values of dignity, equality, and decency and on the importance of making good decisions in life.”