6 Teens Charged Over 'Vile' Group Chat

It allegedly included a mock slave auction of other middle-schoolers
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 15, 2024 9:05 AM CDT
6 Teens Charged Over 'Vile' Group Chat
The icon for Snapchat is seen on a smartphone, Feb. 28, 2023, in Marple Township, Pa. Investigators in Massachusetts are pursuing criminal charges against six teens who they say participated in "a hateful, racist online chat" using the app.   (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)

Six teenagers in Massachusetts are facing charges after allegedly participating in "a hateful, racist online chat" that included a mock slave auction of two other students. In the early hours of Feb. 9, the eighth-graders in the Springfield suburb of Southwick joined a group on Snapchat, where they allegedly used racial slurs, shared derogatory images and videos, and described wanting to commit violent acts against people of color, per the AP. Investigators said there was also a mock slave auction directed at two students known to the group. The mother of one of those students told WCVB she was concerned by "this level of hate" in people as young as 13 and 14.

The group chat was reported to authorities at Southwick Regional School on Feb. 9, a Friday, the same day police were notified, per ABC News. All students now facing charges were "immediately suspended as emergency removal per state law," reports NBC Boston. By the following Monday, the school had issued formal suspensions, including one lasting 45 days. Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni said he learned of the case on Feb. 15 and launched an investigation into the use of "hate speech and race-based bullying." He described the group's contents as "vile, cruel, and contemptible."

"Facing the reality that these thoughts, that this ugliness can exist within middle school students here in this community in 2024 is discouraging, unsettling, and deeply frustrating," Gulluni said at a Thursday press conference, per ABC. "Hatred and racism have no place in this community, and where this behavior becomes criminal, I will ensure that we act." All six teens are charged with threat to commit a crime. One is additionally charged with interference with civil rights and witness interference, and one with interference with civil rights. They will be tried in juvenile court. (More racism stories.)

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