ANDOVER — School officials have asked police to look into two racist social media posts believed to be made by local students, which were brought to their attention by current and former classmates urging the administration to take action.
In addition to getting the police involved, Superintendent Sheldon Berman issued a statement to the community about the content of the posts, as well as the larger national context in which they were discovered.
"The tensions and circumstances that continue to unfold in Minneapolis and across the United States this week are painful and difficult to watch. The death of George Floyd is a travesty and reveals the pain and suffering created by the racism that is still so present within our country,” Berman wrote in the statement issued May 30.
“These incidents have also impacted the Andover community. On Saturday morning, AHS Principal (Philip) Conrad received information about racist social media posts made by students. These incidents violate our Andover High School student handbook policies. … Each incident has been or will be fully investigated and brought to the attention of the Andover Police Department. (Andover Public Schools) does not tolerate or condone the content of these posts in any way.”
The School Committee followed Berman's lead in a statement Monday.
"We, the members of the Andover School Committee, express our unqualified support of the recent statements by Superintendent Berman and AHS Principal Conrad condemning the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the racist posts by our own students here in Andover," members wrote in the joint statement.
The posts include a video of a young woman repeating racial slurs in a car and a Snapchat picture of another young woman wearing a black facial mask. The text with the Snapchat says, "Ima (racial slur) now."
The ages of the students are unclear, as are the dates of the posts.
Andover High School students and graduates Iris Choo, 21, Aneudy Moreno, 18, and Saloni Khosla, 17, were instrumental in bringing these posts to the attention of school officials, according to the students.
Choo shared the posts on her Instagram account and they also landed on popular town Facebook forums over the weekend.
Along with them she included a disclaimer that states, “TRIGGER WARNING: Racist language. ... Welcome to Andover, Massachusetts. Here are some fun facts about my town. 1) We’re very diverse: We have a population of 36,500. 80% of the population is white. 13% are Asian. 4% are Hispanic. Less than 3% are black.”
"If you’re from Andover and do not believe that our town is plagued with racism and prejudice, then you are tragically misinformed,” Choo also wrote.
As of Monday morning, her posts had generated 1,603 likes and dozens of comments.
“I don’t think racism is a lapse in judgement. I think it’s taught. I am not concerned about the individual people and these individual incidents. I posted these to publicize the racism that’s often swept under the rug in Andover,” Choo said in an interview Sunday.
Moreno, who is black, said, "It feels not good — but right — to point out these people because they think there is nothing wrong with it.”
As a black student at Andover High, he said he has put up with a lot of racism in town and at the school.
“I am tired of it because it’s like I have been dealing with it my whole life," Moreno said, "and now people see it and act like they don’t know.”