01STOCK_MILTON_SCHOOLS02

MILTON

The Milton School District issued a statement Wednesday morning to the families of students in the district responding to a post by a Milton student that juxtaposed images of football players from Milton and Janesville Parker high schools with a historic drawing of an African slave being whipped.

The post, which has circulated on social media, included two images that together carried violent and racial overtones.

The top photo shows a Milton football player, who appears to be white, standing next to a Parker football player, who appears to be Black, laying face down on the field. The photo was taken at a Sept. 17 football game at Milton High School.

The second photo, appearing below the first, is a historical drawing of a white man whipping a prone, naked Black man.

The “meme” for the combined images is captioned, “Slave begs for mercy after Master beats Viciously (1860 colorized).”

The Gazette is not publishing the meme because the Milton football players pictured in the top image are minors. According to the Milton School District, the players did not give permission for the photo of them to be used in such a manner and they had no involvement in the creation of the meme.

Milton Police Chief Scott Marquardt said he referred the case to the Janesville Police Department because creation of the meme is believed to have occurred in Janesville.

The Milton School District released two statements Wednesday. The first reads as follows:

“Dear School District of Milton Families,

“It has come to our attention that a post, created by a local student, has been making the rounds on social media. The post compares local student athletes on the field of play with racist and violent historical imagery.

“The School District of Milton is committed to maintaining an educational environment that is free from all forms of racism, harassment, and discrimination. This post is abhorrent, inconsistent with the policies of the District, and has no place in our community.

“Upon being made aware of the post, the School District of Milton took immediate action to investigate and has referred the matter to the local police authorities. Given that this situation involves student misconduct, under state and federal laws, we are unable to comment any further.

“We ask that our community join us at this time to condemn this racist imagery.

“Given the disturbing nature of this image, the District encourages any in our community who need support to please reach out to our student services team members, guidance counselors, or social workers for assistance.”

The school district released a second statement about its investigation into the incident on Wednesday afternoon.

The statement reads:

“The School District of Milton has completed their investigation regarding a racist image made of local student athletes on the field of play with racist and violent historical imagery.

“Through the investigation, it was determined that the offensive image was created by a Milton High School student. It was also determined that the two students featured in the image are minor children. Neither of the students featured participated in the creation or distribution of this meme in any way.

“We want to express our support to the two students portrayed in the image and to their families. Their photo was used without their consent in the creation of this racist image. These students have been victimized and deserve compassion and understanding. As it relates to the student that created the racist image, this individual is also a minor.

“Milton High School will continue to follow disciplinary procedures as outlined in the student handbook and student code of conduct. However, given that this situation involved student misconduct, we cannot comment further.

“The School District of Milton reaffirms our commitment to maintaining an educational environment that is free from all forms of racism, harassment, and discrimination. This post is abhorrent, inconsistent with the policies of the District, and has no place in our community.

“We will continue to work with the families of the students involved, the School District of Janesville and local police departments on this matter.”

In a news release, the Janesville Police Department said it was informed by a school resource officer of a racist image being shared on social media.

The Janesville Police Department spoke with the Milton Police Department regarding the incident and determined that the act occurred in the city of Janesville by a Milton High School student. The investigation is ongoing and interviews with involved parties are underway.

According to the release, the image was shared on the social media platform Snapchat.

The Janesville Police Department expressed support for the two student athletes portrayed in the image.

“Their photographs were used without their consent in the creation of this racist image,” the department said in the release.

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