Stephen Ellison

Students Protest Classmates Accused in Racist Posts at Albany High School

Tensions continued to rise as those allegedly responsible for the offensive images returned to class

Tensions continued to rise Thursday at Albany High School in the East Bay after students who posted racist pictures of classmates online were allowed to return to class.

Hundreds of students staged a "sit in" to protest the inaction of school officials against the kids who posted the racist images of fellow students on an Instagram account.

The protesting students waited in the afternoon sun to confront those students allegedly responsible for the offensive posts.

"When we all confronted them, called out their names, they were covering their faces, and some of them were smiling and laughing," Albany High senior Nyella Jones said.

The posts included pictures of minority students next to nooses. Others images showed students next to apes.

The seven students accused in the racist cyberbullying ducked out back and side doors when school let out for the day. A number of students, including Jones, said they wished the accused would have shown remorse as they left school.

"They should have been able to sit and look at all of the people's faces who they affected," Jones said.

District Superintendent Valerie Williams said the district has a zero-tolerance policy against cyberbullying. She said she was proud of the way the students showed unity against such hateful behavior.

"What was made clear with these separate but related actions is that our student body stands together in this message that our school stands for inclusion," Williams said about Thursday's sit-in.

Earlier Thursday, students raised concerns about about a rope that was hanging in a park across the street and another at an adjoining park. First thought to be nooses, the ropes later were confirmed to be rope swings, district officials said.

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