Racist verbal attack aimed at Portland student prompts school security increase

N-word, other slurs hurled at middle schooler

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Staff at Hosford Middle School and administrators with Portland Public Schools had extra school resource officers and counselors on hand Friday, after they said a “student of color” was accosted by two white men while waiting for the bus.

In one of two emails sent to parents, the school’s principal said the incident happened Thursday after school, at a public stop at Southeast 28th Place and Division Street. It sits less than two blocks from the school.

Principal Kristyn Westphal wrote the men “yelled racist epithets, including the N-word. This was witnessed by other students.”

Carmen Orellana, a mom at the middle school, says one of those students was her son.

He told her the men followed the student from Hosford to the bus stop, about two blocks, yelling things like “Run Forrest Run!”

Her son also told her the men tried to fight the boy. Orellana drove back to the bus stop and found the student sitting alone, shaking.

The men were gone.

“It's horrible, and that's what I told my son,” she said. “We have to protect our kids. I mean, it kind of bothered me that there were adults around and nobody intervened.”

The district confirms the school filed a report with Portland police and arranged to have counselors, as well as two school resource officers, on site Friday.

They’ll also be maintaining a staff presence at the bus stop for the rest of the year.

“I've heard of some of that stuff happening around the world, but it doesn't really happen here that much,” said seventh grader Keenan Wadnizik. “So that's really sad.”

Westphal ended her letter, sent home Thursday, writing, “…we want to help students feel safe at school, and to stand up against hate together.”

Students spent much of the day Friday putting the finishing touches on murals and painting posters, celebrating diversity and denouncing racism.

The incident comes two days after organizers of ‘Good in the Hood’, an annual multicultural festival, received a racist, threatening letter in the mail. Laced with the “N-word”, it promised a “BLOOD BATH” at the three-day, family friendly event, scheduled to kick off June 23.

It comes two weeks after police said a man verbally assaulted two teen girls on MAX train, one of whom appeared to be Muslim, then stabbed three men who tried to intervene. Two of those men died.

Back at Hosford, a second email went out early Friday morning, inviting Hosford parents to the school and the bus stop to “welcome students”. It read:

Hosford Family -

I hope to see you at 8:30 in the library, and afterward, out on 28th Place/Division to welcome students. Here is the message we will be sharing with students during 2nd period this morning.

  1. Ask students how many of them heard about the incident at the public bus stop at Division and 28th Place yesterday afternoon, either from their families (Ms. Westphal sent a message) or on the news.
  2. Please make students aware of the following facts: Yesterday after school at the public bus stop at Division and 28th Place, a Hosford student of color was yelled at by two adult White males who yelled racist words, including the N-word. Other students saw this happen. Students and a parent reported this to school administration. School administration immediately notified police, we have made a police report, and administrators will be at this bus stop after school for the rest of the year. We are concerned about the impact of this incident and of the racist posters that showed up in the neighborhood yesterday on our students, staff, and families of color. This is not okay that these things happened in our community yesterday and affected our students, staff, and families. We want to help make sure everyone feels safe and welcome going to and from school, as well as in the school building, and we want to stand up together against hate. If you need any extra support, or need to talk to someone, school staff are here for you, and Ms. Brown and Ms. Anderson are here all day. Administrators are going to be outside near this bus stop each day after school, and there are also some Hosford parents planning to stand along the street for the next few days after school because they want students to know our community supports you and hate is not okay.
  3. If you ever find yourself in a situation where someone is being racist in public:
    1. Get to safety (school, restaurant, business)
    2. Stay together
    3. Call the police
    4. Tell an adult
  4. Take questions/discuss
  5. Mr. Ereckson's art classes are collecting posters with messages against hate, standing up for everyone being welcome, safe, and included in our community. They will be posting these at end of day today. We would love to have posters from as many students as possible.

Thank you for all you do.
Kristyn Westphal
Principal, Hosford Middle School

KGW has reached out, through the district, to the family of the student who was targeted. Administrators said that student’s parents were out of the country and could not be reached.

 

© 2017 KGW-TV


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