A principal at a Massachusetts high school sent emails to staff offering segregated “processing” centers to cope with the “devastating” verdict of Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial, following his acquittal.
In emails obtained by Parents Defending Education, Principal Henry Turner of Newton North High School informed staff that there would be “spaces for students and staff of color” to “process” the verdict.
“While I can’t be surprised by the decision of the Rittenhouse case, my lack of surprise doesn’t diminish the pain and hurt,” Turner wrote in one of the emails. “We should anticipate that many people in our school community are reeling from this verdict.”
Kyle Rittenhouse was on trial to determine if his shooting of three men during a riot in Kenosha, Wisconsin was self-defense, as he claimed. Rittenhouse was eventually acquitted of all charges. But that didn’t stop Henry Turner from spreading false claims about the details of Rittenhouse’s case.
“This decision shows the disparity of our legal system,” Turner said. “If Kyle Rittenhouse were black, the outcome would be significantly different….This is racism—a system that teaches people that black and brown bodies are less than others.”
“It’s ok to name racism,” continued Turner. “There is a long history of acquittals such as this when white people get off for murdering black people. To ignore racism in these situations just empowers the system.”
The only problem is that Rittenhouse didn’t shoot any black people. All three men were white. Yet Turner’s comments to staff (and even on his Twitter account) reflect his belief that this case was fueled by racism.
“Does Turner not realize that the people Rittenhouse killed were white?” questions Parents Defending Education. “Did he watch the video footage of what happened that night? Did he listen to the sworn testimony of witnesses, including one of the people Rittenhouse shot?”
One parent from the school says, “[Turner] is using his authority as principal to peddle propaganda and lies to our kids. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”
Another parent shares, “[This] guy is infantilizing students, teaching them to be fragile and ignorant.”
The Massachusetts high school is not alone in offering “processing space” after the Rittenhouse verdict. Fitchburg State University, which also happens to be in Massachusetts, has its own segregated processing centers. These different centers are called “Students of Color Processing Space,” “White Student Ally Processing Space,” “Faculty and Staff of Color Processing Space” and “White Faculty and Staff Ally Processing Space.”
Ironically, Fitchburg State spread its own misinformation regarding the Rittenhouse case. In an email to campus community members, Fitchburg State’s Center for Diversity and Inclusiveness said that the men Rittenhouse shot were protesting the “wrongful death of Jacob Blake.”
But Jacob Blake was not killed, but rather paralyzed. He was shot by a police officer who was responding to a domestic abuse call. Blake had a knife on him and refused arrest.
The university has since corrected its mistake. The school explains that their error was due to hastily trying to alert students and staff about the “processing” spaces before the holiday break. The school has also defended the segregated “processing” spaces, saying it’s an effective method.
In light of the response of these Massachusetts schools and five Kenosha schools that transitioned to fully online to keep students safe in the wake of the Rittenhouse verdict, how will students be impacted by this case in the long run?
Perhaps one of the most concerning issues is the amount of misinformation that’s been spread about the case. And that schools don’t seem too concerned about getting it right.
What do you think about the segregated processing centers put in place by these schools?