Racial incident harks back to southern style

Juliana D. Norwood | 6/29/2011, 5 p.m.

Has lynching come to California? It doesn't have to be a hanging, you know, and it doesn't have to cause death. Still, if the report is true, this incident close enough.

An African American student at Santa Monica High School says he walked into the school's wrestling room on May 4 and found a brown practice mannequin with a noose tied around its neck. Then, after proceeding to the locker room to change, two of his wrestling teammates restrained him and used a cable and lock to chain his pants to a locker. The students allegedly made racial remarks as well.

The alleged incident is being investigated by Santa Monica police and school officials, and the students involved were suspended and could face charges of assault and battery for allegedly restraining him. The racial nature of the encounter could constitute a hate crime.

When I saw this story it was amazing to me that incidents like it are still occurring, not in some faraway old southern town, but right here in Santa Monica, California where, with the exception of Las Vegas, we are probably the most accepting of people of different races, religions and sexual orientations.

A flurry of complaints from various civil rights organizations have already begun flooding media outlets. Najee Ali director of Project Islamic HOPE has called for a federal investigation by the Justice Department, and although I think that may be somewhat extreme, I do believe that on the school's part more than a simple suspension is warranted.

If these youth are guilty, they should at least be expelled from the school district and maybe even required to participate in some type of racial sensitivity seminar.