NAUGATUCK, Conn. (WTNH) — Naugatuck High School students walked out of class Tuesday in response to racist social media posts that were allegedly made by a student there, the daughter of the school’s assistant principal and the town’s police chief.
Now they’re planning a protest after school on Wednesday as well. Students and citizens plan to meet at the front of the school and then march to the green, where a rally will be held.
Tenzin, a Naugatuck High School student helping to organize the march and rally, said, “From my conversation with my peers, there’s fear as well as anger because of the fact that it was the daughter of two people in power in Naugatuck so seeing those ideologies — those racist ideologies – and having it be so violent in our faces, I think that’s why students are scared.”
Chief Steven Hunt’s daughter reportedly posted several racist and violent comments on her social media. One of the messages includes the ‘N’ word, another reads: “My dad is now officially police chief so that means he’s more advanced in shooting black people than he was a couple of minutes ago.”
The posts are now surfacing a few years after they were originally posted.
On Saturday night, Chief Hunt and his wife released an “open letter to the community” regarding their daughter’s posts. They said the posts were made two years ago, when she was 13.
The statement read in part:
We cannot soothe or erase the pain caused by the words and images seen by many. On behalf of our family, we sincerely apologize to all those who were hurt by this. We are left, however, as parents of a scared, regretful child who has and will continue to suffer the consequences of her poor and inexcusable actions. While we fully intend to hold our daughter accountable for her mistakes, we will continue to offer her the same unconditional love any parent would show a child who has erred but showed remorse.
No parent wishes their child to be the primary actor in a “teachable moment”, but there are lessons to be learned. In the age of social media, our words and actions can be scrutinized for all to see. Hurtful and racist comments will live long after they are made. All of us are probably not ever as good as our best day. For our daughter’s sake, we hope that no one will be defined by their worst.
The Board of Education, the police department, and an outside independent party all launched separate investigations into the incident.
“We’re going to do more research and really figure out what’s going on because things like this can’t happen,” said Dwayne Pittman, First Vice President of the Greater Waterbury NAACP.
Naugatuck’s mayor, deputy chief of police, and chairman of the Naugatuck police issued a joint statement Friday night, saying, “These statements do not reflect the values of the Naugatuck Police Department in any way.”
At Naugatuck High School on Tuesday, Anthony Thiel, a student who was part of the walkout, told News 8 the comments were “horrifying,” and that school had been intense.
“People are getting into arguments, yelling, frustrated.”
Keymaury Ayala said they were “very upset” adding that, “If a Black person were to say that there would be repercussions. But if a white person would say it, it’s like no repercussions. They’re not doing anything about it at the school.”
Naugatuck High School students are not the only ones expressing anger over the comments.
Deputy Chief Colin McAllister said, “We want to ensure that the community has confidence in our police department — that we are conducting our duties in a progressive and unbiased manner.”
Mayor Pete Hess said, in part, “They’re disgusting and totally inappropriate.”
Mayor Hess added that he and the superintendent had a meeting with local NAACP leaders Tuesday night.
One woman came to the Hunt family’s defense saying it’s all being blown out of proportion.
“I can understand in this day and age, especially with what we’re seeing on the news but we are talking about a 13-year-old girl who privately sent something to someone, who thought it was funny and doesn’t understand the repercussions and results of this.”
The NAACP Valley president responded, “This is a taught behavior and I raised two kids and I know when they leave my house, they are representing me, their dad, the same way she left her house and represented Chief Hunt.”