A Virginia school district said it was investigating an image posted to social media by a high school football player who reused a photo of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer accused of the murder of George Floyd, kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck to celebrate his team’s recent. victory.
The doctored image, which the student posted after his team won a game on Friday, shows the Cave Spring High School logo superimposed on Mr. Chauvin’s face. The logo of the losing team, Hidden Valley High School, has been changed to Mr. Floyd’s face.
In addition to the football player, a “handful of other” students reposted the image on social media, according to Ken Nicely, the superintendent of Roanoke County Public Schools. The district took notice of the image on Saturday evening, after several parents and other community members reported it to the high school, he said.
“At no time was there any question that this was heinous,” said Chuck Lionberger, a spokesperson for the district. He added that there were other photos posted celebrating the victory that were “unrelated to George Floyd, but just as deplorable”.
School administrators spoke to the students, who “all felt a lot of remorse,” said Dr Nicely. Even if “students are still developing” and making mistakes, he added, “that doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences.”
The district and the school were struggling to understand why the students posted the photo and why they didn’t understand that “it was a bad idea,” Lionberger said.
Last summer, after Mr Floyd was killed, sparking nationwide protests against racism and police violence, the district established an “equity planning and leadership team,” said Dr Nicely, acknowledging the fact that own experiences, needs and perspectives. “
Cave Spring High School, in Roanoke, Va., About 60 miles southwest of Lynchburg, is predominantly white, he added. According to the Virginia Department of Education, nearly 80% of students are white, while 5.8% of students at the school are black.
Friday’s game was Cave Spring’s first victory over Hidden Valley in a decade, Dr Nicely said. Cave Spring was scheduled to play another game this season, but the school canceled the game after the episode due to the “gravity of the situation,” he added.
“What we are trying to do as schools is educate,” said Dr Nicely. Sometimes students “don’t pass the test,” he said, adding that schools in the district draw on history and current affairs in their lessons.
Mr. Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer, is on trial in Minnesota for murder. Mr. Floyd, who was black, died last May after Mr. Chauvin, who is white, pinned him to the ground and knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes as he screamed at the help.
The image released in Virginia last weekend was not the first to shed light on the murder. In February, a Valentine’s Day image of Mr. Floyd with the words “You take my breath away” circulated around the Los Angeles Police Department, prompting an internal investigation.