Marist students protest after alleged racist acts caught on video at Marist High School homecoming

Marist High School students were hurt by display, saying it was especially disappointing during Hispanic Heritage Month
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Marist High School in Chicago's South Side Mount Greenwood neighborhood is looking into allegations of a racist protest at a school dance over the weekend.

One student recorded a video, which she said shows classmates kneeling down and making comments when a DJ played a Spanish-language song.

"For them to be kneeling, which represents racial inequality and racial injustice, for them to be doing that for a song that's not in their language was so disappointing to see, and some of the people I saw kneeling I considered friends," said Maia Trevino, Marist student.

Elizabeth Pacheco, who shot the video on Saturday. She said some of her classmates took a knee and made offensive comments about Mexicans when the DJ played a Spanish-language song. Pacheco found their actions hurtful.

"What I witnessed at the dance was completely disrespectful," agreed fellow student Jenesia Diaz.

"I am also disappointed in some of the teachers that were there supervising, because they didn't do anything in that moment," said Kath Pacheco, student.

Elizabeth Pacheco's mother said she was visibly upset by what happened when homecoming was over.

"When she came home from homecoming she was in tears," Diana Garcia said. "She didn't tell me why until the next day.

Elizabeth Pacheco led protests at the school Tuesday afternoon demanding action.

RELATED: Protest held at Benet Academy after lacrosse coach allegedly had job offer pulled because she is gay

In a statement, Marist school officials said they conducted an investigation, which included the video as well as meetings with staff, parents and students involved in taking and posting the video, as well as the students in the video. They said their investigation found that students kneeled, crouched or sat in order to express displeasure at the songs played during the dance.

The company that DJed the dance told school officials it's common for students to do this to show dislike for a song, and the DJ, staff and students told school officials that some of the students seen kneeling in the video were dancing to other Spanish-language songs played during the dance.

School officials also said chaperones at the dance told them they saw students kneel during several times, and the DJ responded by cutting off one song and playing another.

"Although these are the facts, we recognize there are still students at Marist who viewed this video or who were at the homecoming dance that were hurt by these actions," the school said in a statement. "Marist is a family, and when one of us hurts, we all hurt. The fact that there were students who left the homecoming dance hurt by what they witnessed shows us there is work to do."

Marist officials said they will address the incident with students. Some parents said they are satisfied with the school's response.

"Yes, it was something stupid. It's being addressed. Something is being done," said Maria Muniz, parent.
RELATED: 'It's really upsetting': Students speak out against Wheaton school's gender pronoun policy

On Monday, in response, some students took a knee during homeroom to take a stand against racism.

Students point out this incident happened during Hispanic Heritage Month, a time of celebrating the Hispanic community. Hispanic Heritage Month ends Friday.

School officials said they're providing professional development on cultural competency for staff and students.
Copyright © 2021 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.