Now this is really scary: Private high schools in the Baltimore area are reportedly seeing a wave of racially insensitive Halloween costumes worn by students, past and present.
One photo posted on social media showed a graduate of Boys’ Latin School of Maryland dressed in an orange jumpsuit with the name “Freddie Gray” on the back, according to The Baltimore Sun. The picture was allegedly taken at a party held near the College of Charleston in South Carolina.
Gray, who was black, died tragically in April 2015 from a spinal cord injury suffered in a police transport van. Protests and riots broke out in the city after his death.
Other photos from different parties showed white teenagers, who were identified as students at Baltimore’s Gilman School and Roland Park Country School, in orange jumpsuits captioned with racial slurs. In one picture, two white students appear to be dressed as inmates. That image includes a racial slur and a caption stating they “broke out,” Baltimore TV station WJZ reports.
The photos of the younger students were purportedly posted on Facebook in an attempt to shame them, but have since been removed.
Gilman and Roland Park Country schools released a joint statement on Monday:
Know that we take any situation involving our students seriously, and this is no exception. Please understand that many involved in this situation are minors and we respectfully remind you of this as we work through the details.
St. Paul’s School in the Baltimore suburbs released its own statement:
St. Paul’s School does not tolerate any form of hate or discrimination. The School is investigating an incident that occurred off campus and outside of school hours, and will take the necessary and appropriate steps. Privacy policies do not permit us to provide any further information. We remain committed to fostering an inclusive community whose members respect themselves and one another.
The one female teen among those photographed, a junior at Roland Park, later released an apology to WJZ:
I know what I wore was completely inappropriate and I understand everyone’s anger towards me but I just wanted to tell you something. I promise on my life that both [redacted name] and I did not write “Freddie grey” on the back of our shirts. I would never do that, that is horrible. When I was dressing in costume I was trying dress like the girl from oitnb [‘Orange Is The New Black’] and I realize now that the way I dressed was completely unacceptable. I’m extremely sorry for what I did and I don’t think I’ll ever forgive myself. I know this apology is not going to redeem myself at all, but I wanted to tell you that I’m sorry for offending you. I truly did not mean for my costume to be disrespectful but looking back on it I should have realized how messed up my costume was. But I promise I would NEVER write Freddie grey on the back of my shirt. I’m really sorry.
Because one of the pictures was taken near the College of Charleston, the school’s African American Studies Program also released a statement, according to local station WCIV:
The African American Studies Program at the College of Charleston stands in solidarity with the Black Student Union and other student organizations to insist that the administration take immediate action against the students involved in any and all acts that aim to intimidate and make mockery of the students, faculty, and staff of color on this campus.
College President Glenn McConnell had some sage advice on Monday for students or anyone else attending a Halloween party.
“I encourage you to think about your party themes and costume choices and the impression they may have on others,” McConnell told WCIV. “If you have the slightest doubt if your costume/party theme is insensitive, be smart and don’t do it.”