POLITICS

Police In St. Louis Suburb Investigate Claim White High Schooler Burned Black Student With Glue Gun

Students walked out in protest, and say they'll continue to protest until they don't fell threatened at school.

ST. LOUIS ― Police in the affluent St. Louis suburb of Ladue are investigating a report that a white student at Ladue Horton Watkins High School burned a black student with a glue gun two days after Donald Trump was elected U.S. president following a racially divisive campaign.

Ladue Police Chief Rich Wooten told The St. Louis American that the youth’s mother, Lynette Hamilton, reported the incident and police are “currently investigating.”

On Tuesday, Hamilton claimed in a Facebook post that her son, whom she did not name, “was cornered in the classroom by a Caucasian student, antagonized and taunted with a hot glue gun.” She posted a photograph of his arm with a severe burn, which she described as a “third-degree” burn. She also said the white student squeezed hot glue on her son’s chair and he was burned again when he sat in the chair.

She said she went to the high school the day after the incident and demanded a meeting with Principal Brad Griffith but was told she needed to schedule an appointment. She said that, as of her post on Tuesday, she had not yet heard back from the principal. 

Ladue School District told The St. Louis American on Wednesday that a communications staffer was working on a statement. This story will be updated to reflect the district’s response.

“This is sickening, what is happening to our children and the response and action the district is taking when it comes to African-American students,” Hamilton posted. “It saddens me.”

Dozens of students at the high school participated in a walkout and march on Wednesday in response to this and other reported racist incidents that took place following the election.

Also on Nov. 10, students said, a group of white students chanted “Trump, Trump, Trump,” toward black students on a Ladue school bus. One white male took the hazing further and said all black students should “sit in the back of the bus,” according to Tajah Walker, 15, who was targeted in the incident.

Two students were disciplined for their actions, according to the school. However, Walker said during Wednesday’s protest that one of the students who was disciplined bragged about no longer being suspended on Monday because his mother “got him out of it.”

“I literally had a mental breakdown in the middle of the school day yesterday,” Walker told students at Wednesday’s walkout.

Just a day prior to the walkout, Ladue held a school board meeting in which Walker and others addressed racial tensions within the school district. St. Louis County NAACP officials were in attendance at the school board meeting as well.

Hamilton said after meeting with other parents, she was told these incidents preceded Trump’s election and campaign.

“After an anti-racism/bullying meeting today,” she posted on Tuesday, “I learned that this problem has been in this district for years and years now. With little to no consequences. Get to the back of the bus, being burned and being told get on the ship to go back to Africa is just a piece of what this district has going on and try to sweep it all under the rug.”

A student who did not wish to be named confronted a school official at the rally Wednesday and made the same claim.

“I’m only a sophomore, yet I’ve had so many racial issues already,” the student said. “From the two years that I have been here, I’ve already had so many racial issues ― and the only time you have done something about it is when you get busted for it.”

Shante Lyons, an American history and African-American studies teacher at the high school, counseled the students at the rally.

“We need to be smart, we need to be proactive and we need to put ourselves in a space where we can be most successful, let our voices be heard,” Lyons said. “The people are hearing us. But we need to be focused right now. So what are the steps we can take to put us in the most productive situation possible?”

Students at the protest said they were planning to protest every day, and the next protest is scheduled for noon on Thursday.

“We have to continue doing this,” an unidentified student said at the protest, “until we can go to school and not feel threatened.”

Chris King contributed to this report.

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