CRETE, Ill. - A student at Crete-Monee High School is apologizing for a racist post on Instagram that included a picture of a person wearing a white hood and was captioned with a racist slur.
It did not take long for post to get attention at the highest levels of school and law enforcement, and caused concern that it could be interpreted as a threat of violence.
The students, staff and even police at Crete-Monee High School Monday launched into action at the sight of an Instagram post of a shirtless man wearing a white hood. Crete police spotted it first.
"A 17-year-old Crete-Monee High School student seen in a photo wearing a KKK mask with a post that reads, '3 Ks a day keeps the n------ away,'" said Dr. Nathaniel Cunningham, Jr., school superintendent, describing the post.
At the speed the internet moves, especially among high schoolers, the response came quickly.
"I wasn't surprised, but was like, 'Wow, people are still that crazy in 2017.' They just can't deal with the times," said Darryl Cowans, whose brother is a student at Crete-Monee. "Friends of my little brother were posting concerned statuses about them. They were pretty scared because these are people that are community members. This is close to home."
"This was our concern: Was this just a joke, a hoax, or was there potential for some serious problems there?" said Crete Police Chief James M. Paoletti.
Crete police said they spent hours talking with the 17-year-old student, his parents and siblings.
"By the end of a four or five hour process we were pretty satisfied that, first of all, the individual, the juvenile, that posted it, posted it to a very limited group of people thinking it was a joke, was not aware of the sensitivity of the nature and how offensive it could be found," Paoletti said.
"He regrets doing it. His parents had consultations with the school. He is very sorry and now he sees he used poor judgement and what it eventually could cause," Paoletti added.
"Our expectation is that our students, all of them, students everywhere, understand that posts go everywhere instantaneously, and what you say is always going to be taken seriously," said Cunningham.
The offensive post mentioning the KKK is now gone, and the student posted an apology in its place, saying, "Im [sic ] sorry for making the post I did. It was thoughtless. It wasnt [sic ] rigt or funny. It stepped over a line that shouldn't have been crossed. I shouldn't have posted it so im [sic ] sorry."
While the school said punishment was in place they would not specify exactly what that punishment would entail.
"Whether he is reprimanded or not, I really just hope he is educated on the subject matter. He shouldn't be posting things of that nature," Cowans said.
Chief Paoletti said he was pleased to see the response from the community and people who said the behavior was unacceptable. The student has two more years left at Crete-Monee.