Posted on August 30, 2004

Paxon Students Arrested For Possible Hate Crime (Fla.), Aug. 27

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Police are investigating what they call a hate crime involving students at Paxon Middle School on Friday.

According to detectives, six black students attacked three white students during gym class while shouting racial slurs at them.

Now, parents want to know who was supposed to be watching the students when the fight broke out.

“My son got pushed and some other kids started beating him punching him everywhere, kicking him everywhere,” said one mother, who did not want to be identified.

She said she was outraged to discover her 11-year-old son and two other boys were beaten during their fourth-period gym class. Police said the attack was racially motivated.

“My son is even afraid to go to the bathroom — sometimes he gets hit in the bathroom,” the mother explained.

She said a black boy said it’s “white cracker season.”

Among the six boys arrested in the incident was a 14-year-old, who said the three white teens instigated the fight. The boys who were arrested were also suspended from school.

“One of the white boys . . . was like, ‘It’s white cracker day. It’s white cracker day.’ And that’s when my friends started hitting them,” said the 14-year-old.

But the police report indicated that several black male students said, “This is white cracker season” before they began pushing, hitting and kicking several white male students.

The mother of one of the suspects said she never raised her child to be racist.

“They just said that it’s a racist thing, and I’m not racist and my son is not racist,” she said.

But the State Attorney’s Office is considering charges of hate crimes, which elevates what would have been a first-degree misdemeanor to a felony.

“With the racial undertones, the race-crime aggravator was used, and that would make it a third-degree felony,” explained State Attorney spokesman Jay Plotkin.

Paxon Principal Pam Pierce said she’s continuing to do everything possible to protect her students, but one victim’s mother is still worried.

“I’m just afraid for my son to go back to school, you know. I’m afraid that their friends will try and beat him up,” she said.