Moline Police say officers met the Moline High School football team when it arrived home from its game Friday night and have found the boy racially hazed in a video circulating on social media.
In the 11-second video, the Black player is being forced to sit in a football locker adorned with banana peels while a white player, whose hand is visible on camera, threatens him to sit in the locker "or I'll break both your knees." When the player finally sits, the others scream, "Yeah!"
Police are aware the victim knows who filmed the incident and may consider them friends, police said in a statement released late Friday night.
"We all agree that this incident is unacceptable, disturbing and disgusting. There is no debate. Regardless if students viewed this as a joke, it is unacceptable. The role of the police in this incident is to determine if there is a criminal violation related to law," police said in a statement released late Friday night.
Police will conduct a criminal investigation and send it to Rock Island County State's Attorney Dora Villarreal for review. Moline-Coal Valley School District will conduct a separate investigation of school code violations.
Mayor-elect Sangeetha Rayapati, who is also the school board chair, also issued a statement late Friday night, saying adults have "a responsibility to hold individuals involved in this incident accountable."
"I speak from the heart when I say we have a responsibility to teach them a better way. It's awful to know a child was treated that way. It's awful to know that that child will be marked forever by the incident and the disrespect they received. And it's awful to know other children would see this as a joke," she said.
Moline-Coal Valley School District officials confirmed Friday they had launched an investigation into the video, which was shared widely on social media.
Candace Sountris, spokeswoman for the district, said the district administrative office was not aware of the video until Friday evening.
"The vile behavior depicted in the video does not represent our core values and has no place in our learning community," Sountris said in a statement. "Clearly, we have work to do. Decisive action will be taken upon the conclusion of both the law enforcement and the school district's internal investigation."
"With all confidence I will say that the work of inclusivity and equity is not only an issue that is being addressed, but it is on the forefront with work being done every day," Moline High School assistant boys basketball coach Adrian Ritchie posted on Facebook. "I wish there was a magic brush where we could make a couple of strokes and VOILA, racism is gone. But not unlike the current pandemic, tracking down the the variations and mutations of racism is work that we ALL must continue."
"I am absolutely horrified and deeply saddened by the video circulating social media," Andy Waeyaert, school board member, said in a post on social media.
The newspaper is choosing not to publish the video to protect the identity of the victim.
Moline played Friday at Galesburg. It's unclear if the players involved participated in the game. The team's athletic director and coach weren't immediately available for comment.
Moline Police asks anyone with information to contact the dispatch center at 309-797-0401 or report information anonymously using the P3 smartphone application or call Crime Stoppers at 309-762-9500.