West Genesee High School students rally against racism

Local News

CAMILLUS, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — More than 100 West Genesee High School students gathered outside of the school Friday morning for a protest. It was approved by the administration ahead of time and both students and faculty were taking part.

This all follows a social media post that’s circulating across the district. It shows a West Genesee student taking part in the “George Floyd challenge,” re-enacting his death. But this isn’t the first time this has happened. A similar post surfaced in February, also involving a student. The district just became aware of the other picture this week. They are looking into the pictures and have stated this type of behavior will not be tolerated.

Organizers of the event say this is the first step in addressing the problem, which is the racism occurring in their district.

“Our principal gave like a little speech on the announcements yesterday morning and did everything but talk about the problem. And that’s the problem because it’s not being talked about,” said Nadia Thomas, the event organizer and a senior at West Genesee High School.

The students got their chance to share their concerns directly with administrators and their peers. Some detailed stories of racist behavior they’ve encountered in their time as students.

“I’ve never personally experienced anything like this and I want to be able to understand other people’s experiences and be able to support them,” said Jillian Sweeney, a sophomore at West Genesee High School.

The students who organized the events came with a list of demands. They’re calling for the district to implement anti-racism courses, hire more people of color, and sit down with them to talk about change. The superintendent tells NewsChannel 9 he will be meeting with the students to discuss just that next week.

“And we’ll stay on their case until it happens. Because I have siblings in this district, and it needs to change because if it doesn’t, then they’re going to be going to a school where this happens and they’re going to be treated poorly because of their skin color,” said Rylee Ellithorpe, one of the organizers of the event and a senior at West Genesee High School.

NewsChannel 9 spoke with superintendent David Bills over the phone after the rally. He said he is proud of his students for speaking up. The administration was also in full support of Friday’s rally.

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