Hate Crime or Accident?

Sandy Rougely gave permission for her 12-year-old daughter to go on a school camping trip at a ranch back in April but, according to reports, returned with gruesome rope burns circling her neck.

With the history of lynching used as terrorism tactic in the American South a not so distant memory, the story was first picked up by the Dallas Morning News and has taken on a life of its own since then. Rougely’s daughter is one of two Black children who attended the trip by students from Live Oak Classical School, a private school. She sued the school for $2.7 million, the cost of attending private school through the 12th grade and to go toward the future pursuit of a degree in law or medicine.

The school claims the child’s injury was an accident that occurred while students played with a rope swing. Okay, but how the hell did a rope get around her neck in the first place? The following is an email from Jeremy Counsellar, a member of the school’s board of directors, to the Dallas Morning News.

The student and some of her classmates were playing with a swing and an attached pull-rope on a field trip, Counsellor wrote. The student received first aid treatment immediately after the accident by a parent chaperon who is also a physician, and she was able to enjoy the remainder of the field trip, which lasted through the next day. Live Oak takes the safety of its students seriously and is saddened that one of its family suffered an unfortunate accident and injury.

The school went on say that Rougley’s attorney, Levi McCathern, was playing up the racial issue for the sake of sensationalism. Rougley’s daughter has a completely different take on the situation than the official version put forth by the school.She said she was helping push the other children on the swing but stopped to watch. She then felt a rope wrap around her neck from behind and was dragged backwards.

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The young girl also said none of her classmates came to her assistance. She said she looked back after removing the rope to find three white boys who had picking on her standing there. The Morning News says Rougley’s daughter asked if they were responsible and they denied it, recalling that they were holding the rope and it simply fell to the ground when they let it go.

Thats why I think it was on purpose, she said. I think someone tried to tie it around my neck.

Ms. Rougley said she wasn’t even contacted about the incident and only learned of it when her daughter got off the bus wearing what she initially thought was a necklace. Man, listen…so many screw ups, so much callousness and excuse making. I hope this young girl is not traumatized for the rest of her days by this. Additionally, there needs to be a hate crime investigation ASAP.  

For those who think a child is too young to be charged with a hate crime I would like to direct you to an incident in Brooklyn, NY where five young African-American boys are being charged with a hate crime for setting an empty school bus from a Jewish school on fire. There is legal precedent and just cause for an law enforcement to get involved.

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