Niagara Gazette

Local News

December 21, 2013

NT student makes lynching threat at KW basketball player

Niagara Gazette — A North Tonawanda High School student has been suspended after tweeting a racist message during a varsity basketball game last week threatening to “lynch” a Kenmore West basketball player who is black.

“Hey #11 for ken west I will find you and lynch not just you but your family too,” the tweet read, before trailing off into an expletive and a racial slur during North Tonawanda’s 61-51 loss.

The tweet was directed at Terrell Ford, a sophomore multi-sport athlete at Ken West.

North Tonawanda High School Principal James Fisher and Athletic Director Cynthia Bullis issued a statement Friday, a week after the incident took place, indicating that an immediate investigation ensued, and that the suspension was issued to the student in line with the district’s code of conduct.

“One of our students, a non-athlete, electronically transmitted a racially insensitive and threatening message to a student-athlete from another school,” the statement said. “An immediate investigation was conducted by the NTHS school administration (and) confirmed the identity of the student, who admitted responsibility for sending the offensive message. The student has been held accountable for harassment (and) suspended from school.” 

But James Mallory, Ford’s brother, said he was informed the suspension was for five days and said it did not go far enough to address the comment. Mallory said his family has contacted an attorney and is considering pursuing legal action.

“A five-day suspension, I don’t think that justifies the type of thing that has (been) done,” said Mallory, adding that his family became aware of the tweet before arriving home from the game Dec. 13. “It wasn’t just a racial slur, it was a death threat against my brother and my family.”

Fisher said district policy prohibited him from releasing the exact terms of the suspension but did say the most severe penalty for “harassment” was as long as five days.

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