Illinois authorities are reviewing a video in which a Black high school football player is seen being harassed by his teammates. The now-viral footage, which was reportedly filmed last Thursday, appears to show the teen in a locker room surrounded by his peers, one of whom tells the teen to get in a locker filled with banana peels.
“Get in the chair or I’ll break your knees,” the student says. Once the victim complied, others are heard shouting, “Yeah!”
According to the Associated Press, detectives learned about the 11-second video a day after it was posted, and conducted interviews with school staff members, coaches, and student-athletes. The Rock Island County State’s Attorney confirmed the incident had taken place at Moline High School and that all parties involved have been identified; however, authorities are keeping details about the case to a minimum, as it involves juvenile subjects.
“The video depicted a young man who was confirmed to be a student and football player at Moline High School,” Rock Island County State’s Attorney Dora Villarreal said a press release Monday. “Upon review of all the facts gathered by the Moline Police Department, numerous witness interviews and diligent investigation by the Moline Police Department and cooperation by students and staff, this Office has referred the matter for appropriate action in our Juvenile Division.”
Moline Police Chief Darren Gault said the video depicted “a disturbing racist scene,” but said all students directly involved in the incident were all friends. He also the involved individuals were “both different and similar races to the victim.”
“Regardless of these facts, we all agree that this is a disgusting way to treat a fellow teammate, a fellow human, and most certainly a friend,” Chief Gault wrote.
Villarreal has asked the public to stop sharing the video on social media. She also said her office was asked to share the following statement from the student:
I want to make it known that I’m fine. Everyone is worried about me and showing concern for me and I really appreciate it. Second, can everyone please stop talking about the incident and video? I understand everyone wants justice for me and they want what they think is right to be done, but I already made my feelings known to the police and my friends about how I feel about everything. I love the football team I’m on and they’re good guys. I know that personally. I talked to the people involved individually and they apologized. We had a heartfelt talk about it and I told them how I felt. So please don’t harass, bully, or threaten them at all. Lastly, I want to get my life back together, and my student-athlete life back on track, so if you do ever see me or know who I am, treat me as a human first, not a victim.
The Moline-Coal Valley School District says it’s conducting an investigation of its own, but federal law prohibits them from sharing details of any disciplinary action, as the case involves minors.