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NAACP Snohomish County calls for action, accountability on threats from Marysville students

Police monitor athletic fields at Marysville-Pilchuck High School in the aftermath of a shooting on the high school's campus on Oct. 24, 2014 in Marysville, Washington. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

There are reports of threats to kill minorities from students in the Marysville School District, threats that included showing a weapon that belongs to a Marysville police officer. The Snohomish County NAACP is calling for tougher consequences.

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“In December, during a Zoom meeting — a class meeting, it was an online class — a couple of the students decided that they would talk about killing Black people, and they said, ‘Let’s kill Black people.’ And they named off some names and said ‘yes, this one. No, not this one,'” explained NAACP Snohomish County President Dr. Janice Greene.

“And it was reported. And the student was suspended for a short period of time, and I don’t think he was suspended immediately,” she added. “So there was no real action taken — at least from my perspective, there was not real action taken. There was a threat, internal threat assessment done by the Marysville School District. But we consider any threat, especially in these days and times, that’s something that you have to take very seriously.”

The situation then escalated, Dr. Greene said, when one of the same young men that was part of the first incident posted an image to Snapchat with a hand on a gun and a caption of “killing minorities soon.”

“Again, we’re still waiting for more severe action or actually some accountability from the school district and from local police,” Greene said.

The incident is under investigation by the sheriff. As the Everett Herald reports, the student who posted a photo with the gun is a police officer’s relative.

“In order not to have a conflict of interest, the sheriff is investigating instead of the Marysville police,” Greene explained.

This incident involves students from Marysville Pilchuck High School. Dr. Greene says her understanding is that the educator was out of the online classroom at the time, but came back and reported the threats.

The NAACP, Dr. Greene says, is calling for action and a plan to prevent similar incidents in the future, as well as a zero tolerance policy for hate crimes from all local school districts.

“We are calling that they, that the Marysville School District, and all school districts, have a strategy and a plan to protect students of color now and in the future, that there are consequences for these type of threats and this type of behavior,” she said. “We’re also looking for the police department and Snohomish County prosecutors to always pursue these types of issues as hate crimes, and that they hold the perpetrators responsible to the full extent of the law.”

“We’re looking for school districts in Snohomish County to institute a third-party complaint reporting and investigation system in response to hate crimes,” she added. “And the reason we’re asking about this is the students that report are saying that they are intimidated, if they report. We’re also looking for all school districts in Snohomish County, and probably beyond, to institute a zero tolerance policy for hate crimes and any retaliation against reporters of hate crimes.”

Those are the immediate goals, she clarified, but the NAACP is also hoping for real action.

“We continue to have these talking forums where people come out and say what their experiences are and, for me, personally, it’s getting to the point where we’re asking our young people, our children, to come out and relive their trauma in front of people without the necessary actions being taken so they don’t have to deal with that trauma in the future,” Dr. Greene said.

The parents in the school district, especially parents of color and members of the BIPOC community, are concerned about this incident, Greene noted.

“Especially since school is getting ready to go back in person,” she said. “So it’s going to be really difficult for people to send their kids back into school”

As far as pushing to charge crimes like this as hate crimes, Dr. Greene says it escalates them.

“It puts it at a level that people understand that by threatening people, … threatening people’s lives and livelihoods, their property, whatever, and it’s based on race. And it’s across the county. But right now, the focus is on Marysville,” she said. “But when you do that, you escalate it to a hate crime status, I think it gets more attention and makes people understand the difference between just maliciousness and hate.”

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These particular incidents happened in December and January. As to why there’s been a delay, Dr. Greene says there’s no excuse.

“I think that the systems and institutions, they figure out ways to protect each other. I think that we have to make this more visible. We have to get it out there,” she said. “And then we have to push. We really have to push our all of our law enforcement, our institutions, our educational systems to do what they are supposed to do. They’re supposed to be protecting our children. They’re supposed to be protecting and serving, and they’re supposed to be doing the progression of activities to make sure that we have a safe environment.”

“Actually, there’s really no excuse in my mind, there’s no excuse for an investigation to go on this long,” she said. “It’s no excuse for the young man to be suspended and then show up in another, get transferred to another school instead of being disciplined appropriately. So there’s so many things that I think that we as a community and as a society need to address, and the protection that we give the perpetrators.”

KIRO Radio’s Gee and Ursula Show has reached out to the Marysville School District for comment.

Erik Scairpon, Chief of Police in Marysville, told MyNorthwest and KIRO Radio that he responded to the letter from the local NAACP, clarifying that he agrees with and shares Dr. Greene’s concern “about these hate crimes that occurred within the greater Marysville community.”

“Each of the reported incidents to the Marysville Police Department in December of 2020 and January 2021 was immediately classified as hate crimes by our department, and we quickly investigated these crimes,” Scairpon writes in his letter to Dr. Greene.

Listen to the Gee and Ursula Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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