A Chicago-area high school freshman is facing serious consequences after posting a photo of a Black classmate on Craigslist with the caption “Slave for sale.”
The 14-year-old Naperville Central High School freshman, who is white, appeared in DuPage County juvenile court on Wednesday (Nov. 20), facing charges of two counts of committing a hate crime and one count of disorderly conduct, the Chicago Tribune reports.
The Chicago Tribune reports the name of the youth will not be released because he has been charged as a juvenile.
Naperville police became aware of the incident on Monday (Nov. 18), and DuPage prosecutors charged the youth the following day on Nov. 19, the Chicago Tribune reports.
While he was in court Wednesday (Nov. 20) with his parents, he did not speak during the hearing, the Chicago Tribune reports.
On Thursday (Nov. 14), the alleged incident began in the high school’s lunchroom, Assistant State’s Attorney Lee Roupas told Judge Anthony Coco.
The teen allegedly took a photo of another student, also a 14-year-old male freshman, who is Black, as they sat at the same lunch table, the Chicago Tribune reports.
The accused teen then posted the photo on Craigslist with the caption “Slave for sale (Naperville)” along with other offensive language, Roupas said, the Chicago Tribune reports.
Prosecutors said the allegations are “serious and aggravating,” and the alleged actions put the victim’s safety at risk. The hate crime charges are juvenile felonies and the disorderly charge is a misdemeanor, the Chicago Tribune reports.
The teen is due back in court in December. He left the courtroom with his parents after the judged ordered him and the alleged victim to have no offensive contact while both at school and no contact outside the classroom, the Chicago Tribune reports.
“It wouldn’t be a bad idea for you to stay as far away as possible while you’re at school,” the judge told the accused, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The ad has since been removed, and the mother of the accused teen told the judge she took his phone from him, the Chicago Tribune reports.
According to Harry Smith, the boy’s attorney, he and the victim were friends and are involved in the same school activity. Smith said his client, who is serving an in-school suspension, has a meeting scheduled to formally apologize to the victim before the school principal, the Chicago Tribune reports.
“Hate crimes have no place in our society and will not be tolerated in DuPage County,” State’s Attorney Robert Berlin said in a statement issued Wednesday (Nov. 20), the Chicago Tribune reports. “Anyone, regardless of age, accused of such disgraceful actions will be charged accordingly.”
Berlin also said that hate crimes, especially those involving juveniles, are “very rare” in DuPage County, adding he could recall only two in the past decade involving youths, the Chicago Tribune reports.
The parents of the accused teen, their lawyer and representatives from the DuPage NAACP held a closed door meeting with district officials to discuss the situation on Tuesday (Nov. 19), the Chicago Tribune reports.
“As educators, we have a responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of all students, especially those from marginalized and vulnerable student groups. Racial discrimination and hateful acts are never acceptable,” the Naperville school district said in a statement on Monday (Nov. 18) following an initial email Naperville Central Principal Bill Wiesbrook sent to parents over the weekend, the Chicago Tribune reports.