UPDATE (4:02PM) — The student who posted the photo that has gone viral is now apologizing. News 5 spoke with her family lawyer this afternoon. He sent us a copy of a letter the student wrote to the school board.
In it she writes…”I am one of the girls in the picture at the Robertsdale High school pep rally. I had the sign that said “Put the “panic” back in Hispanic”. Sir I would like to inform you that, that wasn’t my intention and was not meat for it to be taken that way. We played the Spanish Fort Toros on Friday night, I was meaning “panic the Toros” considering when I think Spanish I think Mexican or Hispanic. When I realized how people were taking it, I wasn’t going to bring it. But my friend who had it in his truck brought it to the bleachers, when one of the boys sitting near me saw it and held it up. I do apologize for making our school look bad and I do understand any consequences I must face. But I also believe in my right of speech. I did not mean it in any kind of racial way, half of my family are Hispanic. Thank you for your time reading this, I apologize for all the publicity and misunderstandings this has brought to our school.”
MOBILE, Alabama (WKRG) — Baldwin County residents are calling a photo ‘hate speech’ and claim faculty is doing nothing about it.
The photo shows two high school girls and the Robertsdale High School mascot. One of the students is holding a sign that says, “Put the Panic back in Hispanic.” Another student is holding a “Trump Make America Great Again” banner.A screen shot of the post has been put on Facebook and is being shared across social media.
Many parents, alumni, students and community members contacted us outraged and wanting answers.
“I think it was wrong and something should have been done about it. It’s making Baldwin County schools look bad,” says a 2014 Robertsdale graduate, who has chosen to stay anonymous. “A school should welcome anybody. Everybody deserves an education.”
“I graduated from there and it’s wrong how they can allow this poster that says ‘put fear in Hispanics’ to be shown in front of everyone. It’s wrong. I feel really offended and disrespected by this school and the staff. I want to know why robertsdale high school would allow this,” says Julissa Ruiz. “Kids of any race, tone, gender should feel comfortable going to school with no racist act like this to happen. I also have family who attend robertsdale high school and for them to see this and make them feel uncomfortable is unexceptionable.”
News 5 reached out to the school district and received the following response,
We are aware of a photo that appears to be taken at a Robertsdale High School football pep rally Friday Sept. 15 that is circulating on social media containing political banners and unacceptable language. School administrators, as well as my office, are following up on the matter. – Eddie Tyler, Superintendent
Former class president, Krystal Austin Moore, shared the photo on her Facebook page. She said, “I am deeply hurt and confused as to why this was accepted as acceptable at a public high school. I experienced very underhanded racism on several accounts as a student, but never in my lifetime would I imagine this would still be penetrated into the student body on this level at my beloved alumni.”