OWATONNA, Minn. (FOX 9) - Two students were charged Tuesday in connection with an altercation at Owatonna Senior High School on Monday that stemmed from racist comments made on social media over the weekend.
The Owatonna Police Department said a few white students posted racist comments on social media over the weekend that were directed towards black students at the school. Students told FOX 9 it escalated when another social media post came out Monday during lunch in which the “n-word” was used repeatedly.
“That’s when everybody had enough,” Adnan Abdullah, a senior, said. “Everybody started storming into the lockerroom to get the kid and that’s when complete chaos happened.”
The police department said officers were called to the school to “de-escalate the situation.” The school was put on lockdown.
The two students were taken into custody and have now been charged.
One student was charged by a juvenile delinquency petition with a felony for fourth-degree assault of a peace officer, a gross misdemeanor for fifth-degree assault and a misdemeanor for obstructing legal process. The second student was charged with a gross misdemeanor for fourth-degree assault of a peace officer and a misdemeanor for obstructing legal process. Law enforcement is not naming the students.
Some students told FOX 9 on Monday the heavy law enforcement presence only escalated the situation. Videos posted online show a confrontation between students and police.
“I think they definitely handled it wrong by calling the cops,” Eman Gabri, a sophomore, said. “Like if they called out the kids that were causing this, if they said, 'I want you, you and you in my office,' this probably wouldn’t have happened today.”
The school district has denounced the social media postings and is looking to help the community heal.
“Obviously we don’t condone any of that behavior; in fact, it continues to be our goal to work towards racial equity and eradicate racism,” Owatonna Public Schools Superintendent Jeff Elstad said.
The investigation into the original social media posts remains ongoing.