Photo in Klan-like garb leads to threats against Nash Central High students

Posted January 6, 2015 6:14 p.m. EST
Updated January 6, 2015 6:15 p.m. EST

— Six students are being escorted to class at Nash Central High School, officials said Tuesday, after a photo of them wearing what some say are Ku Klux Klan-style hoods made the rounds on social media.

The controversial photo first appeared on Instagram when the school was on Thanksgiving break. Parents of the six girls in the photo then notified Nash Central High officials that the girls had been threatened because of it, Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools Superintendent Anthony Jackson said.

A investigation by the Nash County Sheriff's Office determined that the girls did nothing illegal, and school district officials said they didn't break any school rules. But that hasn't eased tensions in the community.

"It's sad," resident Minnie Johnson said Tuesday when she saw the photo, immediately saying the girls looked like Klan members.

"I was born in the '60s," Johnson said.

"They should have known better," said Shenna Tucker, a waitress at the Nashville Exchange sandwich shop. "Someone should have taught them better because it's not all right."

Gregg Perdue, who was eating at the sandwich shop, said people shouldn't be too quick to jump to conclusions.

"Now that it's got the exposure and people put their own spin on it, you can start thinking. We don't know until we find out what their intent was," Perdue said.

Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone said the photo has "been taken all out of perspective," saying the girls told his deputies that the photo was taken at a party.

"It had nothing to do with the KKK or anything of that nature," Stone said.

One student said one of the girls in the photo told her the girls were simply making party hats.

Jackson said there have been no disruptions at Nash Central High because of the photo, but the district is working with the Juvenile Mediation Center at Campbell University to engender dialogue between students, parents and community members about the photo and the reaction it created in the community.

Students who had strong feelings about the photo also have been allowed to discuss the girls' actions to help ease tensions, he said.