A Louisiana high school student was charged for simple battery and a hate crime after hitting a Black student with a belt and pelting him with cotton balls.
According to WWL, the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s office reportedly said the 15-year old Vandebilt Catholic High School freshman was arrested on Mar. 15 and booked into the Terrebonne Parish Juvenile Justice Center. They said he was allegedly seen in video footage of the incident, captured on Mar. 9.
In the video, a white student walked up behind a Black student in the Vandebilt’s crowded cafeteria and hurled numerous cotton balls at him. He then hit the victim with a belt multiple times, which led the Black student to stand up and push him.
Individuals familiar with the school reportedly said that the victim was one of a few Black students that attended their school. News outlets have released neither him nor his aggressor’s names due to them being minors.
The Associated Press reported that Vandebilt Catholic President Jeremy Gueldner spoke out about the alleged incident in a statement saying these “actions by a few are not consistent with the values and mission of our school.”
Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Tim Soignet expressed that he was pleased with how the school handled the situation.
“I’m very pleased that the school took a front stand on this,” he reportedly said in a news release. “When we received the complaint, we immediately put our detectives on it. They worked through the weekend so we could get to this point. My officers did a good job handling it and working with the school to get this case to where it is now.”
The victim’s parents also appreciated everyone’s support following the alleged hate crime targeted at their son.
“We will continue to pray for our school community as a whole, that we not only get through this together but that we each learn a valuable lesson from what has taken place,” they said.
PJ Allridge, their son’s coach and family friend, said he was disappointed by what he saw in the video.
“That’s Vandebilt? Like, this is Vandebilt. Houma. Right here, not that far from where I live. A school that I went to, a school that I represent, a school that I coached at…to see this, it’s hurting. We’re living in a time such as 2022. We’re not in the 50s. We’re not in the 60s,” he said.
Terrebonne Parish NAACP President, Jerome Boykin, praised the victim’s school and the local sheriff’s office for responding quickly, saying they “sent a strong message to the community that this type of crime will not be tolerated.”
“The young man is only 15 years of age, and I hope that he can learn from his mistake,” he added.