(Updated at 7:40 p.m.): See attached video for footage of the press conference.
Najee Ali, the founder and co-director of Project Islamic H.O.P.E, will hold a press conference on Wednesday at 4 p.m. in front of Santa Monica High School to call for a federal investigation into the alleged racial incident that took place at the school on May 4.
According to the complaint filed with the SMPD on June 21, Victoria Gray’s son, who is black, walked into the school's wrestling room and noticed a brown practice mannequin with a noose tied around its neck. While changing clothes, he was approached by two peers who used a cable to tie his pants to the locker while using racial epithets such as "slave for sale."
“We are outraged that school officials are not taking this with enough seriousness,” Ali said. “Based on the racially motivated actions of the students we feel that federal hate crime charges should filed . . . what happened to this young man was even more serious [than the Calabasas incident of anti-Semitic graffiti, which resulted in ] . . . this student was actually physically attacked.”
Although no charges have yet to be filed, Sgt. Richard Lewis of the SMPD said the students for allegedly restraining the student. Also, the alleged “racial epithets” and undercurrents of the incident “could make it a hate crime.” The incident is currently under investigation, said Lewis.
publicly apologized to the student's mother on June 16 during a , saying he felt the district had “erred” in not informing Gray.
Cuneo did meet with Gray prior to the board meeting and, according to Cuneo, a mass e-mail has been sent out explaining the steps the district is taking over the incident, including counseling support and orientation for future freshmen.
“We do not tolerate this on our campus and [we] take it very seriously," Cuneo said on June 16. "We’ll take every step to make sure that all students are respected on our campus, and we want to promote a positive environment and celebrate diversity."
“We are outraged by the superintendent’s office, the principal and law enforcement . . . it’s a slap in the face of all students who have the potential of being the victims of hate,” Ali said.
Project Islamic H.O.P.E. is a non-profit national civil rights organization that advocates for the human rights of all oppressed people regardless of race, gender or religion, according to the organization’s website.
The acronym H.O.P.E. stands for helping oppressed people everywhere.
“The school district could have used this as a teaching moment instead they tried to cover it up and that is something we are going to expose,” Ali said.
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