Henrico officials: Viral fight was not over race

Henrico officials: Viral fight was not over race

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - A viral video of a massive brawl involving students at Varina High School has left parents troubled and a community asking questions.

On Tuesday, October 16th, a fight involving students broke out in the courtyard at the high school. It was recorded on a cell-phone and posted on social media.

According to students and Henrico school leaders, the fight began after a disagreement over a girl between two students. Eventually, those students' friends got involved and turned it into a brawl during the school day.

After the fight was posted on social media, rumors began to swirl that it began over race since the video appears to depict a group of white students, fighting a group of black students. The comments under the videos posted, many from people outside of the Henrico County School District, continued and many of them were vulgar, some even inciting violence.

A grandmother of a student at Varina High School, who asked not to be identified in order to protect her grandson’s privacy said she was outraged over the incident and kept her grandson out of school.

“So I went on social media looking for it, and when I found the fight it really upset me,” this grandmother said. “From what I know it started over a young lady.”

But according to this grandmother she was most concerned by a comment under the video on social media threatening to shoot up students. The comment also had racial undertones.

“My fear is I’m going to get a call one day and my grandson is going to be dead,” she said.

Henrico County Police and the Henrico County School District say they investigated the threat and are continuing to monitor and investigate the situation. Police said they identified the individuals in the video as well as the person who made the threat on social media. That person is a former student and charges are pending, according to police.

Henrico County school leaders say they’ve been proactive since the fight happened even sending in their director of equity and diversity, Monica Manns, to speak to students.

“I just came from Varina High School and to say those kids are livid and upset about the portrayal of the school, would be putting it mildly,” Manns said. “They have been working really hard at changing the perception of that school and are extremely upset that the video is out there.”

Manns says she’s been speaking with students since the incident happened.

“I wanted to hear from them what the issue is because I was prepared and was willing to accept and respond to whatever it was but they wholeheartedly said that was not the concern,” Manns said addressing race. “It was two individuals who had an issue with each other and the friends were taking up for one another and it ended up looking like a black and white issue.”

Manns said she is orchestrating what’s called an opportunity plan for Varina High School.

She is taking information from her debriefing at Varina High School this week and setting goals for the high school. Those goals will eventually be made public. The plan will be for two years.

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