The incident, which took place in Plano, Texas, has caused a stir in the local community, prompting many to stage a protest.
Trigger warning: The story contains graphic mentions of bullying, allusions to racism, and homophobia.
A 13-year-old was horribly bullied and forced to drink what appeared to be urine by classmates during a sleepover in Plano, Texas. The incident occurred after the victim, SeMarion Humphrey, an eighth-grader at Haggard Middle School, was invited to the sleepover on the weekend of February 12, without prior knowledge that the boys who harassed him at school would also be in attendance. In what is being called a "pre-calculated" and "racially motivated" incident by Kim T Cole, the victim's attorney, Humphrey was called slurs, made to drink a substance that looked like urine, and shot with BB guns. "To call it bullying minimizes the gravity and the horror of this attack," Cole said, according to CNN.
@MindShiftKQED When schools become safe havens for bigoted attacks and bullying, #remote-learning gives respite until reform. Authorities investigating allegations of racism and bullying of a 13-year-old by his classmates during sleepover - CNN https://t.co/OEERoii4ch— Samantha Udondem, MPH (@SamanthaAdjoa) March 10, 2021
The teenager had been a victim of harassment for years when he was on the football team, but according to his mom, Summer Smith, he quit during the 2019-20 season because he could no longer take it. But the abuse never stopped. At the sleepover, Cole said the boy was called the N-word, taunted, and even called homophobic slurs. A cellphone video of the incident shows him drink what appears to be urine in a cup while laughs and giggles are heard in the background. In another video, Humphrey was being slapped while he was asleep. According to Cole, the teen refused to divulge any information about the incident because the boys had allegedly threatened him. The next time he went to school on February 22, after a long lay off due to the snowstorm, a classmate asked him if he really drank the urine. Cole revealed that the boy didn't remember the incident because he was on sleep aid medication for his anxiety. That's when the classmate showed him the video that was being shared around the school.
#SemarionHumphrey#JusticeForSemarion#JusticeForSemarionHumphrey— earthisdone (@alfredborden98) March 5, 2021
PLANO ISD PLANO INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT 469-752-8100
Haggard Middle school
Linda Washington Principal
Humphrey only got around to telling the principal about the incident during the first week of March after videos of the abuse were made available to the school officials. The school then informed his mother before launching an investigation. Speaking in a video message on Thursday, Sara Bonser, superintendent at the Plano Independent School District, said: "...the district immediately launched an investigation. Incidents like this affect our whole community. I want to let our community know that Plano ISD does not and will not tolerate bullying or harassment and believes every student must be treated with dignity and respect". The school district also issued a statement soon after and stating leaders and counselors began "working closely and carefully with all involved students and their parents." The statement read: "Since Plano ISD employs members of local law enforcement as school resource officers, the Plano Police Department was immediately involved."
Smith, the boy's mother, is "devastated" about the events that transpired at the sleepover and claimed she "cried for a long time" after watching the disturbing videos. "I was just angry, I was sad, I was confused because he was at his friend's house," she told the outlet. Plano Police Department Public Information Officer, David Tilley, has said the department is "aggressively investigating this case" adding that Chief Ed Drain had a very productive meeting with Humphrey's family. However, the family attorney says the school district simply isn't doing enough to handle bullying and harassment cases in general, and especially in the teen's case, and wants to push for changes. "Right now, what Plano ISD is doing is not working," she said. "I'm not certain if the failure is in the policies. I'm not certain if the failure is in the implementation of the policies. I don't know where the failure is, but I plan to get down to the bottom of it and assure that Plano ISD has the appropriate policies and procedures in place to assure our children's safety."
As the incident caused a furor, locals banded together to protest against the injustice and to get the school district to take firm action against the miscreants. Humphrey even joined the protests wearing a "Justice For Me" T-shirt and a poster and felt "empowered" by all the support he received.