A high school student in Georgia has been hit with multiple charges after video appeared to show him attacking a fellow student who was wearing a Pride flag in his high school cafeteria, violently throwing the flag into a trash can, and then attacking a fellow student who tried to stop him.
The unnamed student at Lowndes High School now faces juvenile charges of disorderly conduct, simple battery, and disruption of a public facility, according to Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk who was quoted by the Valdosta Daily Times.
Video of the incident was posted to Twitter by a former student last Thursday, September 2.
"I need everyone to see the scum that's here," wrote Twitter user @jcamachobass.
\u201ci need everyone to see the scum thats here in South Ga\nthis just happened today at Lowndes High School, the high school i went to and my brother is currently going to, here in Valdosta\u201d
— Raymond \ud83e\udd18 (@Raymond \ud83e\udd18)
The video shows a male student wearing a black shirt running across the school cafeteria towards a student with multi-colored hair and wearing a Pride flag wrapped about his shoulders. The black-shirted student can be seen violently ripping the flag from the student's shoulders, pulling him to the floor in the process. Another female student wearing a yellow shirt then tries to stop the black-shirted student, and the pair engage in a tug-of-war with the flag until the black-shirted student pulls it away and slams it into a trash can, which he knocks over in the process. The black-shirted student then appears to shove aside the female in the yellow shirt just off-camera before the video ends.
A student who was in the cafeteria last Thursday and witnessed the event told WALB News 10 the incident is indicative of the anti-LGBTQ+ atmosphere at the school, where out students are harassed and bullied for expressing themselves.
"I feel like me and my friends are unsafe because the majority of us are part of the LGBT community and you would think going to school would be a safe place, but there's people with so much hatred that will hate you and do anything they can to just at you because you're different and want to express yourself, and it's really hard," said the student who wished to remain anonymous.
One commenter on the video revealed the "yellow shirt friend is my sister" and went on to say she was happy for the outpouring of support she and her friend have received since the video went viral.
The video received a big push from makeup YouTube influencer Jeffree Star, who posted a since-deleted link to the video on his social media.
"Why are straight guys always so bothered???" Star asked in his post.
\u201cWhy are straight guys always so bothered??? \ud83e\udd2e The student w the pride flag was minding his own business\u2026 This makes me sick.\nAnd that girl laughing?? Got it. Truly awful.\u201d
School officials said last week they were aware of the incident and were conducting an investigation.
"We are aware of a social media video involving two students and a Pride flag," Rodney Green, assistant principal at Lowndes High School, said in a statement quoted by the Valdosta Daily Times. "We take the well-being and safety of our students seriously. Our staff works hard to provide a safe environment where all of our students feel valued. As soon as the Lowndes High School administration was aware, the matter was investigated, they ensured that the victim was not hurt, and addressed the other student following the appropriate consequence outlined in the Student Code of Conduct."
This is not the first time Lowndes High School has been in the news for the wrong reasons. In 2013, Kendrick Johnson, 17, a Black student-athlete at the school, was found dead in a rolled-up wrestling mat. The death was ruled accidental, but many still believe Johnson was murdered and local and federal investigators were afraid to conduct a more thorough investigation and bring charges because two of the possible suspects were reportedly the sons of an FBI agent. The case is the subject of a documentary, Finding Kendrick Johnson, which can be streamed on Amazon Prime and Google Play.