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This article has been updated to include a statement from Norman Public Schools.
A school district in Oklahoma remains under fire after a Twitter video surfaced on January 20, depicting the bullying of an autistic 6th grader.
Nearly 2 million people have watched a disturbing video of a White student shoving and threatening a Black autistic student while the teacher does little to stop it.
“An autistic 6th grade boy named Joshua was physically attacked by his peer at Alcott Middle School in Norman, Oklahoma. This bully had been picking on Joshua for quite some time, he even had been jumping at Joshua in the hallways trying to “get him to flinch”, a Twitter user named Mya wrote in a post sharing the video.
Video shows bullying on full display
The video begins with the taller student walking over to Joshua, who is standing near his seat. The bully violently shoves Joshua while the teacher stands by like a deer caught in headlights.
As Joshua attempts to sit back down in his seat and block the blows coming his way, the bully moves around the teacher, who lazily extends his arm in between the two boys like a weak branch blowing in the wind.
Meanwhile, the bully continues shoving Joshua, goading him into a fight, while students look on, some of them smiling. At one point, a student tells the bully to “f*ck off.”
“I’ll beat yo *ss, too”, the bully says to the other student. Clearly commanding the room with little intervention from the teacher, it takes another student to deescalate the situation. The video ends with a student walking the bully away from Joshua, performing a job that the teacher should’ve done.
People react to disturbing video
Notable figures from Oklahoma Sooners football legend Bob Stoops to Atlanta Hawks basketball player Trae Young called out the bully’s disturbing actions.
“Come on Man, are you serious? Have some compassion and love for a brother! My man isn’t bothering you or anyone else! Like all bullies and cowards you only pick a fight you can win. WEAK!” Stoops tweeted.
F***ing Sad!! No kid should EVER have to go through this.. not physically capable enough to protect himself & the other kid knows that… !!! Somebody pls get me Joshua’s info,” Trae Young added.
Since the release of the video, thousands of people have shared it on social media, highlighting an issue prevalent in many schools across the U.S.
“Joshua was NOT supposed to be in this class,” Mya, the video sharer, posted. “His specialized learning teacher was not present the day of the incident & NPS failed to make sure there was a backup plan for Josh when his teacher wasn’t present, ultimately FORCING the young man into this situation.”
Norman Public Schools under fire
For their part, Norman Public Schools has yet to issue a public statement regarding the incident. However, in response to a request for comment, NPS sent the following statement to The Black Wall Street Times:
“We are aware of this incident and have taken the appropriate disciplinary action in accordance with our board policies and state law. We understand the upsetting nature of the situation and while we wish we could share more about exactly how this situation was handled, state law prevents us from publicly releasing student information.”
Meanwhile, in a video posted to Facebook, Joshua’s mother responded to the support her family has received.
“This boy’s been smiling from ear to ear knowing how many people is supporting him,” the mother said in a video as she and her son were about to get Chinese food.
“And he loves football, so I’ve been telling him about all the football players and the coaches” who showed support for him, she added.
Despite being self-described as the most progressive and inclusive community in Oklahoma, the city of Norman has struggled to make its schools inclusive for all. As a former sundown town which excluded Blacks from owning property in the city until the late 60s, Norman’s Public Schools has struggled to live up to the city’s ideals.
Black students in the district are more likely to receive in-school and out-of-school suspension than White students, despite making up only six percent of students, according to Civil Rights Data Collection from the Office for Civil Rights.
All eyes on Tuesday meeting at Norman administrative building
NPS does have a policy against bullying or harassment on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, and disability. Yet, only a few allegations of bullying have resulted in discipline as of 2017, the most recent year for which data was available.
“Joshua’s mother claims when it was all said and done, admins at Alcott MS refused to acknowledge her son was bullied, they instead told her “he got his pride hurt”. He was LITERALLY assaulted by someone twice his size,” Mya, the video sharer posted on Twitter.
On Tuesday, Joshua’s mother will attend a meeting at the Norman Public School’s administrative building at 1:30 p.m, located at 131 South Flood Avenue in Norman. She’s asked members of the community to show up in support.
To stay up to date on Joshua’s story, the family has created a Twitter account, Justice4Josh.