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Teen's racist threats shouldn't be ignored, Urban League says

The Columbia Urban League questioned why it took Cardinal Newman weeks to notify parents of a threat against the school.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The Columbia Urban League says the public and law enforcement shouldn't ignore the racist videos and threats deputies say were made by a Cardinal Newman student.

The CEO of the organization, J.T. McLawhorn, issue a statement Tuesday on what he said was were "repugnant" videos. 

“These risks must be taken seriously at every level of law enforcement – local, state, and federal,” McLawhorn said. “They cannot be dismissed as youthful boasts, shock value, or exaggeration.”

Deputies say a 16-year-old male student at Cardinal Newman created videos where he used racist language and shot a box of shoes that he pretended was a black person. The videos were eventually discovered by school administrators in July. 

He was told by the school on July 15 he was being expelled, but he was allowed to withdraw from the school. On July 17, however, another video came to light that deputies say showed him threatening to 'shoot up the school.'  That same day, he was arrested for making the threat. 

The news of the arrest, however, didn't come to light until August 2. That was also the day Cardinal Newman sent its first letter home to parents. Lawhorn questioned why it took so long to let parents know about the threat. 

“Schools must have a ‘zero tolerance’ policy for this type of hate speech. Schools also must mandate cultural competence training for the children who have been exposed to this vile invective."

Cardinal Newman's principal has since apologized for the delay after hearing from upset parents. Richland County deputies say they didn't give information to the public because the case was "historical, was neutralized with an arrest, and posed no immediate threat to the students of Cardinal Newman." 

McLawhorn pointed to the case of the Charleston church massacre, where the man who committed those killings made similar threats before going through with the heinous act. 

"We are in an environment where certain actors feel emboldened to move beyond hate-filled rhetoric to violence," McLawhorn said. The hate-filled rhetoric from darkest corners of the web to the highest office in the land, coupled with easy access to automatic guns, raises the risk of mass violence.”

“These threats are dangerous in themselves, and also inspire copycats who will carry out acts of domestic terrorism," McLawhorn said.

The National and Columbia Urban League are part of a group called "Everytown for Gun Safety," which they say calls for stronger, effective, common-sense gun legislation.