White teen seen on video throwing cotton, whipping Black student charged with hate crime
HOUMA, La. — A 15-year-old ninth-grader was arrested and charged with a hate crime this week in connection with a racist bullying incident at a Catholic high school in Louisiana, authorities said.
The student at Vandebilt Catholic High in Houma was charged with simple battery and hate crime and was booked into the Terrebonne Parish juvenile detention center, Sheriff Tim Soignet said in a news release.
A video of the incident surfaced on social media March 9 showing a white male student throwing cotton at a Black male student who is seated in the cafeteria. The white student then whips the Black student with what appears to be a small belt.
“I’m very pleased that the school took a front stand on this,” Soignet said Wednesday. “When we received the complaint, we immediately put our detectives on it. They worked through the weekend so we could get to this point and effect an arrest on that juvenile. ”
A spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux declined to comment about the arrest Wednesday and said he was not able to discuss student disciplinary matters.
Terrebonne Parish NAACP President Jerome Boykin praised school officials and police for their swift response.
“Vandebilt Catholic High School’s administration and the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office sent a strong message to the community that this type of crime will not be tolerated,” Boykin said Wednesday. “The young man is only 15 years of age, and I hope that he can learn from his mistake.”
Vandebilt officials said earlier that they were also investigating.
“School officials are working in cooperation with diocesan officials, students and parents to investigate this matter and are committed to ensuring that all individuals involved are held accountable in accordance with school policies,” the school said.
Vandebilt Catholic President Jeremy Gueldner said the school does not tolerate bullying or racism.
Meanwhile, the parents of the victim in the incident issued a joint statement last week thanking the community for its support.