Naperville Central High School student faces hate crime charges after posing ‘slave for sale’ on Craigslist of fellow teen black student.
A 14-year-old Illinois boy is facing hate crime charges for allegedly posting a photo of a black classmate on Craigslist alongside a caption that read, ‘Slave for sale.’
The boy, who is white, appeared in DuPage County juvenile court on Wednesday on two counts of committing a hate crime and one count of disorderly conduct. He attended the hearing with his parents but did not speak, the Chicago Tribune reports.
Prosecutors said the freshman at Naperville Central High School took a picture of his classmate, who is also 14, as they sat at a lunch table on Thursday CNN reports. The teen then posted the ‘beyond disturbing’ photo and caption on the classified ads website along with other offensive language, including racial slurs, prosecutors said.
‘Slave for sale (Naperville),’ the advertisement read, according to screenshots posted on social media.
Prosecutors characterized the boy’s alleged actions as ‘serious and aggravating,’ behavior that jeopardized the victim’s safety.
‘Hate crimes have no place in our society and will not be tolerated in DuPage County,’ State’s Attorney Robert Berlin said in a statement obtained by the newspaper. ‘Anyone, regardless of age, accused of such disgraceful actions will be charged accordingly.’
Naperville Police Chief Robert Marshall described the incident as despicable and extremely offensive.
‘Every single person deserves the right to feel safe and welcome in our community, and this department will continue to strive to make that a reality by thoroughly investigating any allegations of hate crimes and bringing those found responsible to justice,’ he said.
The offending boy’s mother told a judge during Wednesday’s hearing that she has since removed her son’s phone. The ad has also been removed from Craigslist.
Speaking to WGN, the victim’s mother revealed the two were once friends before the suspect started making disparaging comments about her son. ‘The moment he started teasing my son, calling him dumb, making fun of his skin color, saying ‘shut up slave’ last October, they are not friends anymore,’ she said.
An attorney for the suspect said he’s serving an in-school suspension and is set to meet with the victim along with the school’s principal to apologize.
It’s unclear what punishment the teen may face if convicted, but a spokesman for the state’s attorney office said that he will ‘face probation at a minimum’ if found guilty.
Other teens at the school, meanwhile, said the post has outraged many black students and their parents, WLS-TV reports.
‘I witnessed it on Snapchat at first,’ said student Tejia Gilford. ‘A lot of people were sharing it, saying it was wrong.’
Added, parent, Veronica Lewis, ‘This is not surprising because if they had a handle on it, these things would not be happening.’
Continued the mother whose own son has faced prejudice at school, ‘I think they need to keep talking about the real issues, how it’s important we not have these situations because in 2019 we are still dealing with this, and that is completely unacceptable.’
The un-named teen is due back in court on Dec. 18.