A Georgia High School Teacher Was Suspended After Allegedly Telling A Black Student "That’s How People Like You Get Shot"
A white teacher at Rockdale Career Academy in Conyers, GA, has been placed on administrative leave after a video surfaced of him allegedly threatening a Black student, according to the Washington Post. The video, which was reportedly shot late last month from within the classroom, shows physics teacher Paul Hagan allegedly yelling at an 11th grader. In the video, Hagan is heard and seen saying: "Don't smile at me, man, OK? That's how people like you get shot. I got a bet. I bet by the time you're 21, somebody's gonna put a bullet right through your head. And it might be me — the one that does it." Hagan also allegedly told the student not to “screw” with him or he’ll "get in big-a** trouble" in the video. Bustle has reached out to Rockdale Career Academy for comment, and will update this post when we hear back.
While the video does not clearly show exactly which student Hagan is talking to, you can hear other students in the classroom express shock after hearing what their teacher said. April Carr, the mother of the student that Hagan was allegedly speaking to, was initially told that a teacher used profanity toward her son. When she asked her son about the alleged incident, she received a fuller picture of what happened.
"He's in a classroom of majority African-American students, so for you to say 'you people,' it's an outright racist statement — no covering it up," Carr told ABC Atlanta affiliate WSB-TV.
"I think it's a terroristic threat on my son's life that I definitely don't take lightly," she told WSB-TV. Carr also said that she has filed a police report. "I want [Hagan] fired and I want charges pressed against him,” she said.
"This is not OK, you know, for our educators and the people who parents send our kids to school to learn from," Carr said to ABC News.
Aware of the issues of systemic violence against Black people in this country, Carr says she has had several conversations with her 17-year-old son about how to conduct himself in an effort to avoid being harassed or killed. “With all the shootings” going on, "I have to take it as seriously as it sounded," Carr told WSB-TV. Carr also told the station that in these conversations, she tells her son to be "respectful at all times."
Carr told ABC News that her son did not engage in any “back and forth” with Hagan, as the teacher claimed in the video, and that he is a good student who is in the gifted program, takes multiple advanced placement classes, and is on the wrestling and football team for the school.
The school is currently investigating the alleged incident, but some folks are wondering what there is to investigate, since there is a video that shows Hagan saying inappropriate things. But as history has shown, the presence of video footage does not always means there will be justice, and there is no denying the legacy of violence against Black kids in this country, especially in the South. Think Emmett Till. Think the four little girls in the Birmingham Church Bombing. Think Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis.
Hagan reportedly apologized to the student, but in the context of historical violence perpetuated against people of color by authority figures, an apology is not quite enough. "You see these stories on the news never believing it will happen to your child," Carr wrote on her Facebook page, where she posted the video. "Well it happened to mine and we will get justice."