"They were sent home from school. It was the LAST DAY. There were NO other repercussions. They even went to prom the very next night," one source said.
Students from a tiny Pennsylvania high school wore "White Lives Matter" shirts to their last day of classes, reports VICE News. A Snapchat posted on Facebook and Reddit — and shared with the network — shows five Montgomery Area High School students wearing white T-shirts with the White supremacist slogan scrawled across the front in black lettering lined up in front of a background of trucks. The school is now under fire for allegedly turning a blind eye to the incident and not taking any substantial action against the students. "They were sent home from school. It was the LAST DAY. There were NO other repercussions. They even went to prom the very next night," said one source. "Some of them are seniors going off to represent OUR school and town."
“They were sent home from school. It was the LAST DAY. There were NO other repercussions. They even went to prom the very next night,” one source told VICE News in an email. https://t.co/VBdKQiifbJ— VICE News (@VICENews) June 29, 2021
The disturbing Snapchat is said to have been posted by a student with the caption: "One of the most disrespectful things I've ever seen happen in Montgomery. Only reason you did this was to piss people off and look like a complete racist, not funny at all." When contacted about the incident, the school's principal, the district's superintendent, and members of the local school board didn't respond to reporters.
High schoolers wore "White Lives Matter" shirts on their last day of schoolhttps://t.co/yEiEqcWPe8— War and Poetry (@LifesHourGlass) June 30, 2021
However, four sources who spoke to reporters about the snap asked to remain anonymous out of fear for their safety. They explained that the small Pennsylvania town about 80 miles north of Harrisburg with less than 2000 people — 97% of which is White — has a reputation for tolerating bigotry and punishing those who speak out against it. In fact, some have allegedly already received threats. "Each graduating class has roughly 45-60 kids per class," said one source. "So in a town like this, you don't really go against the grain or you are bullied and ostracized."
WTF— Todd Holden (@tholden3) June 29, 2021
PA High school seniors wear “White lives Matter” shirts on their last day of school. The school system failed to prepare them for the real world. Disgusting!
The area was described as "very right-wing" and "conservative-Christian oriented" where the prevailing ideology sometimes falls into offensive or downright racist territory. For example, the district's mascot is the "Red Raider," an image of a stereotypical Native American with face paint and feathers in their hair. Furthermore, just last year a neo-Nazi group held a hate march in a park just 15 minutes away. "I recall when I was a kid in the early '90s there were still White power rallies on rare occasions in nearby small towns," said Barry Hill Jr., a Montgomery High alumnus who graduated in 2003.
Photo shows students wearing “White Lives Matter” t-shirts and posing in front of trucks. 📸https://t.co/8pc6K7XGic— Complex (@Complex) June 29, 2021
When the recent White Lives Matter incident at the school spread across Facebook and Reddit, one community member who wrote a letter to the editor of the Williamsport Sun-Gazette, faced strong backlash from many. "I am ashamed for the town which prides itself in having such a great school," Sherry Lee Havonbrook wrote in the letter. "I'm horrified for the targeted students, staff, and those that attend that do not align with such bigotry. I hope things get better, but I'm disgusted."
Smal town Pennsylvania, color me shocked. https://t.co/DssNqoYloA— Jeff's Kiss (@jayehmelle) June 30, 2021
Unsurprisingly, this isn't the first time Montgomery High has been embroiled in racist controversy. Up until less than a decade ago, the school used to put on a "Slave Day" during which students would be auctioned off to each other and faculty and made to do whatever their "purchaser" required of them. "They would be made to carry around others’ books or do others’ homework," Hill said. "Teachers would make them clap erasers, scrub toilets, etc. Sometimes in silly or humiliating outfits. The money went to senior class activities." This tradition has since been renamed the "Senior Auction."
The school also has a history of anti-LGBTQ+ policies and used to require students to bring dates of the opposite gender identity to prom, Hill added. Coming out at the school can allegedly be extremely dangerous and attract harassment. "I am only aware of a single student who was openly gay throughout my entire time at school," Hill said. "The family moved into the district and, I did not witness it, but I was told the girl had been beaten up pretty badly after inquiring about a relationship with another female student and did not return to school after that. The family moved away a couple weeks later."