The 16-year-old Clovis Unified student who tweeted out images of racially-demeaning messages from Clovis students fears for her safety after her family received threats.
The girl’s aunt received a Facebook message just after midnight on Tuesday that read, in part: “Tell her to delete her post exposing them lads or you and your whole family including (the girl) is next.”
The message came from a Facebook user with the name “Petit Sung” with a nondescript profile picture.
The girl and her father believe the message sent to her aunt, who shares the girl’s last name, were implied threats to carry out the actions mentioned in Snapchat messages, such as lynching.
The Bee interviewed both the girl and her father about the issue, and agreed to withhold their names to protect their safety.
The girl tweeted out screenshots on Friday that show a conversation on Snapchat discussing “slaves.” The users in one post referred to black people by using the N-word and suggest they “jet on over to Africa and smuggle a new one over.” In a second screenshot of the Snapchat conversation, the users appear to discuss the size and strength of black Americans. “Let’s race our slaves,” reads one message.
At least one screenshot mentioned the Snapchat conversation was made by students in an “FFA group.” The FFA is the Future Farmers of America.
Clovis Unified School District officials said on Tuesday no evidence so far points to active FFA members participating in the conversation. On Monday, meetings were held in individual classrooms, and some schools were calling assemblies to address student concerns from the messages. The investigation is ongoing.
When the young student first saw the Snapchat messages, they “made me sick to my stomach,” she said.
The girl, who is completing courses through an independent study program at Clovis Unified, said she has mostly received support after her tweet went viral, garnering more than 3,500 retweets. But some people on Twitter criticized her for posting the messages publicly instead of showing school staff or administrators or called her a “snitch.”
Still, she doesn’t regret what she did and believes she did the right thing.
“I knew if I took it straight to the district they wouldn’t do anything,” she said. “They would sweep it under the rug. I knew it would have more of an impact this way and force them to do something.
“There’s a lot of African Americans in my school, and they messaged me saying ‘thank you’ and they were scared to say something. I’m glad I could stand up for them,” she said.
About 3 percent of Clovis Unified students are black.
The girl’s father stands by her actions.
“She didn’t do anything wrong,” he said. He noted previous race issues at Clovis High and said he believes racial tensions are “escalating” there.
Kelly Avants, a spokeswoman for the district, said the issue was “deeply concerning” on all sides.
“We’re doing everything available to us to get to bottom of how we can address what is occurring and how we can make sure every student on our campuses feel secure and comfortable in the learning environments on our campuses regardless of what is happening in our community and society outside of school.”
The girl said she’s seen photos of one of the Snapchat users with guns and a knife and worried the boy might be violent.
Since her tweet, her father has restricted her access to social media and her cellphone because of the negative comments she’s receiving. She has not deleted her tweet.
They were making plans Tuesday to reach out to Clovis police and declined a meeting with school district officials until they could have an attorney present.
Avants declined to comment specifically on the open investigation or the threats made to the girl’s family.
“We’re aware there’s a lot of conversation on the internet on the topic. We’re concerned for the safety of all of our students,” she said. “Unfortunately, this highlights a situation we often find ourselves in as public school officials who are bound by law to protect the confidentiality of our students. When they don’t look at their own confidentiality, we can’t respond. Our hands are tied.”
The girl has clashed with school officials in the past and hopes her actions don’t affect her petition to return to Clovis High.
“We haven’t been happy with the district and have a track record of not being treated fairly by Clovis Unified,” her father said. “We have a right to be treated fairly and with respect and not face reprisal. … We felt entrapped in the past.”
Avants says anyone who wishes to share information about the district’s investigation can contact their local high school and ask to speak to the principal’s office or contact the district’s Office of School Leadership.