A photograph showing a white high school student giving a thumbs up while a black student poses with a noose around his neck went viral and sparked outrage on social media.
The photo was originally shared to Snapchat with the caption, “Treating him right at Curry High.” It was reportedly taken at Curry High School, where student Wade Spurgeon and his friend Jordan attend.
Spurgeon, the black student in the photo, has been friends with Jordan since kindergarten.
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“We didn't mean to offend anybody by it, it was just me and him joking around like we usually do,” Spurgeon told WVTM.
Spurgeon and Jordan, as well as the one taking the picture, were suspended for the rest of the school year.
Jordan's mother released a statement insisting her son isn't racist, according to AL:
I am the mother of the boy in the picture taken in the Curry locker room. I want to start out with saying my son is no racist, and I will not tolerate any kind of racist behavior from him. I am dealing with him and his punishment. I also want to add he and the boy in the pic have been friends since elementary school and they are both where (sic) goofing off when they did this. My son is young and definitely did not think about what the consequences of such behavior would be. He is learning very quickly.
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She claimed that her son has been receiving death threats since the photo circulated online.
“Two wrongs do not make a right and for those who have threatened by son and been to his job looking for him it makes you no better than he,” she said.
Jordan later posted his own apology on Instagram:
I want to apologize to anybody I hurt or offended. Me and (the other student) go way back and have been friends since elementary school. I didn't mean it too be this way. We just planned it as a joke. It was stupid for me too post something like that in the first place. I just wasn't thinking.
Carol Spurgeon, Wade’s mother, told WVTM that both her son and Jordan were equally responsible for the content in the photo.
“Jordan didn't force Wade to do it, Wade didn't force Jordan to do it, nobody forced the kid to take the picture,” she said. “It is something that happened, it was stupid, it was very ignorant on all three parts but they are 17-year-old kids and they have a lot of mistakes left to make yet.”
Walker County Superintendent Jason Adkins released a statement acknowledging the incident that said, "All involved, from the two students in the picture to the one that actually took it have all been disciplined," the Daily Mail reports.