PA Students Cause Social Media Uproar After Carrying Trump Sign As 'White Power' Chanted

Nov 10, 2016

Two York County School of Technology High School students face disciplinary action after they carried a Donald Trump campaign sign while “white power” was chanted as they walked through the school’s halls Wednesday. 

Renie Mezzanotti, the school's communications and outreach coordinator, said the incident happened while students were walking into the school at the beginning of the day and administrators were quick to squash the issue.

The incident was captured on social media. It's unclear if the students carrying the sign chanted "white power," but Mezzanotti said, "a student brought in the sign, another student held it up with him, the chant went twice."  Students, parents and even parents of students in other districts fueled the fire, she said.

Mezzanotti said the school’s official Facebook page was suspended after it was flooded with rumors exaggerating what happened.

“The easiest way to shut down that venue was to suspend that page,” she said, adding that she’s also monitoring an unofficial school page often used by parents.

A phone message explaining what happened was also sent out to York Tech parents early Thursday.

“I think the power of social media has just made anything that appears there become gospel,” she said. “And 99 percent of it is unsubstantiated nonsense.”

Though Mezzanotti said social media may have exacerbated the issue at the school, other schools around the country have seen similar incidents of racism post-Election Day.

San Diego State University police are investigating a hate crime after two suspects reportedly stole belongings from a Muslim student in a hijab after making comments about Trump and Muslims. And at a Minneapolis high school, bathroom graffiti referencing Trump also said, "whites only" and "white America." 

Some social media reports indicated York Tech students who felt threatened or scared either left or were picked up from school after the incident. Mezzanotti said she couldn’t confirm if that was the case and said classes went on as normal Wednesday.  

York Tech has a student population of 1,700 and is demographically diverse, Mezzanotti said. According to state records, teens that identify as Hispanic make up about half of York Tech's minority student population, which is 36 percent of its overall student body.

She said racially driven incidents are uncommon among the school's “harmonious” environment.