Racist threat against Black students at California high school evokes fear in parents

Parents of Black students at a high school in California are worried for their children’s safety after a threat was made on Instagram earlier this month.

The parents told NBC News that they have little details regarding the incident involving the threat made against Black students who attend Western High School in Anaheim, and are unsatisfied with the response from school staff.

The threat came in the form of an image posted on Instagram, which was reviewed by NBC News. Accompanying text warned the school to “be ready” and used a racial slur on top of a picture of handguns, a semi-automatic rifle and other guns. It is not clear when the image was posted, but is no longer available publicly because it was a story post, which only lasts as long as 24 hours.

Victor James, whose son Kenneth is a junior, said “nobody” from the school “is really doing anything to really make sure that we’re OK.”

“We don’t feel safe,” he said. “We don’t feel like this is really being taken seriously.”

“No one’s making a big deal about it,” he added. “What do we have to do? Have one of our kids killed before somebody shows up to say something?”

John Bautista, the public information manager for the Anaheim Union High School District, said in a statement Monday that the incident is “under investigation with the Anaheim Police Department.”

He also referred to an email sent to families May 5, stating that the district is “aware of a threat circulating on social media platforms regarding a school shooting” at “Western High School and other schools in Orange County and across the nation.” Law enforcement “have deemed the threat to be NON CREDIBLE,” and encouraged the community to “say something if they see something and report any concerns,” according to the statement.

Several schools in multiple states, including North Carolina, received threats that day, and staff at several schools deemed the threat unspecified, an ABC News station in Durham reported. The Coral Springs Police Department in Florida arrested an 18-year-old last Friday for a social media post threatening a mass shooting at a school, according to NBC Miami, but it is unknown if the person arrested was linked to the threat targeting Western High School students.

Some parents said they are on edge from the threat following a series of racist encounters they said their children have experienced with little intervention from school administration. James’ wife, Pamela Driskel-James, said there has “been an escalation” of racist acts toward their son since the last school year. Some racist acts, including vandalizing Black students’ cars, often targeted  her son’s football team, which includes many Black players.