6 Massachusetts teens charged with hate crimes after alleged 'slave auction' on Snapchat

By Ehren Wynder

March 14 (UPI) -- Six Massachusetts eighth-graders face criminal charges for their alleged participation in a "mock slave auction" and racist comments aimed at Black students on Snapchat, officials said Thursday.

All six juveniles, between 13 and 14, were charged with threats to commit a crime, Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni told local news media. Two of the teenagers were charged with interference with civil rights, and one was charged with witness interference.


The charges alleged the group in early February held a "mock slave auction" on Snapchat in which they could "bid" on two Black classmates.

Gulluni said the students "expressed hateful and racist comments, including notions of violence toward people of color, racial slurs, derogatory pictures and videos, and a mock slave auction directed at two juveniles known to them."

The group was reported to Southwick Regional School authorities on Feb. 9, and all students involved were suspended "as an emergency removal per state law," on Feb. 12 Gulluni said.

Because of their ages, the names of the students involved were not disclosed.

"There is no question that the alleged behavior in this case of these six juveniles is vile, cruel and contemptible," Gulluni said. "Seeing it, and facing the reality that these thoughts, that this ugliness can exist within middle-school students here in this community in 2024 is discouraging, unsettling and deeply frustrating."


Superintendent of Schools Jennifer Willard said in a statement to local media that the school district on Feb. 12 sent an email informing parents of the "highly inappropriate and racist conversation on Snapchat that involved students at Southwick Regional School."

"We can assure the community that the district does issue consequences in accordance with our school code of conduct in these types of circumstances," the statement read. "As stated in our original email to the community, the district firmly believes that racism and discrimination have no place in our school community."

Allyson Lopez, a Springfield resident, told local news that her 13-year-old daughter was one of the targets of the mock slave auction.

"If they have this level of hate in them now at this tender age of 13 and 14, it worries me," she said. "I know this is not something we can just walk away from."

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