The eight high school student-athletes who participated in a racist social media video this past weekend have been dismissed from their respective sports teams, according to officials from Gordon Lee and Ringgold high schools.
Six students from Gordon Lee and two from Ringgold were shown in a video using a racial slur during a group chat with other students that turned ugly. In the video, six of the students took turns uttering the one-word slur as the camera turned to them. The video has since gone viral after one of the students participating in the group chat copied and posted it on Instagram with the comment, "That people would have the audacity to ask me why I don't like going to school in north Georgia, that's a pretty good example if you ask me."
After expressing disapproval of the video with a released statement Sunday, the Chickamauga City School administration announced Monday the Gordon Lee students will not participate in athletics in the upcoming school year. The statement read:
"After thorough investigation, legal advice and coordination with other involved schools, the Chickamauga City School district has determined that Gordon Lee students involved in the video containing inappropriate racial comments will be dismissed from all extracurricular activities, which includes all athletic teams. We are very disappointed to have this video associated with our school system and apologize to everyone who has seen and been affected by it. While we realize these students are young and have made a poor decision, this decision has serious consequences and will not be tolerated. We hope they, and others, will learn from this incident. The content of the video is not indicative of the beliefs of our staff, student body, their families, or the Chickamauga community."
Ringgold football coach Robert Akins also confirmed Monday that his two student-athletes have been dismissed from the team. The veteran coach expressed his condemnation of the video shortly after he was made aware of it.
"Obviously, that doesn't epitomize our team or our school," Akins said. "This is a situation where we have kids, and I don't know what they were thinking, but I know it's not acceptable under any circumstances. You can't take it back, and there are consequences to that.
"With everything happening in the world today — something like this shouldn't happen anytime, but especially now that there is more awareness on the subject of equality. We talk to our kids constantly about staying away from those things, but sometimes they are full of themselves. We are going to take it head on and we are going to protect our team."
The mother of one of the athletes posted on her personal Facebook page: "Hard life lessons at (our) house this morning. As many 15-year-olds have been known to do, (my son) made a very poor choice. A choice that does not reflect his upbringing or his true character. There is a video of him and his friends saying the 'N' word that is making its rounds on social media. He is beyond devastated and too late realizes how wrong he was. Why this video was made is beyond explanation or rationalization. As a family we have discussed punishment, but we have also made the decision to have the hard conversations. We want (our son) to realize that although it is a word, it is much more than that. It has the power to ignite hate; it is entrenched in the tearing down of a culture and people. He needs to own what he has done by understanding and growing as a person. He has apologized online, but we know apologies mean nothing without change. We are reaching out to those he has hurt (teammates, opposing players) to try and sit down, to talk, to try and heal. There are always two choices when you fall: be bitter and hate or grow as a person and learn. I hope that experience helps him grow. There are no words. We are hurting and devastated and hopefully growing from this experience."