NAACP wants hate crime charge brought against high school student

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) -- A Kentucky chapter of a national organization is demanding that a hate crime charge be brought against a Lexington student.

"Sadly, Lexington Catholic is certainly not an anomaly. We know that we've heard reports of these same things happening at our five public high schools," Adrian Wallace, vice president for Lexington's chapter of the NAACP, said. "These are things we don't want to bring a hammer down on children, but at the same time they need to understand that kind of behavior is not acceptable, the hate speech that is going on inside of our schools when kids are trying to get an education."

Denisha Vinegar told WKYT that her 14-year-old son, DaMarco, who previously attended Lexington Catholic, was a victim of harassment from one of his teammates on the football team. Police charged the 17-year-old Lexington Catholic student earlier this week with harassing communications and third-degree terroristic threatening.

Vinegar discovered threatening messages after looking at her son's computer. Some of the messages detail a string of conversations about her son needing to turn in some money, suggesting he "pick my cotton" or "sell crack" to get the money. The messages were dated from Feb. 16 to Feb. 22.

Lexington Catholic High School President Dr. Steve Angelucci said the other student involved in this situation has been suspended from school until their investigation has been completed.

The case has been referred to the Fayette County Attorney's office as a misdemeanor. However, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People issued a statement on Saturday night saying:

"It is our contention that the criminal acts of this individual led to a charge of Harassing Communications was racially motivated and falls under the KRS definition of a Hate Crime. Therefore, the local branch of the NAACP strongly recommends that Larry Roberts, Fayette County Attorney (pursuant to KRS 532.031 Hate Crime) refer this case to the Fayette Commonwealth's Attorney's Office as a Hate Crime. "

"These youth, they're being fed that by their families often times, and so while people think that symbols and maybe people think this kid's verbiage isn't really that big of a deal, it really is because it speaks to a larger issue and it's something we need to make sure we alleviate and it won't go away if we don't talk about it," Wallace said.

Fayette County Attorney Larry Roberts said he could not speak specifically to this case because it is pending. Generally speaking, he said it is difficult to say what will happen when criminal proceedings involve juveniles.

The cases must go through the juvenile court system and any number of things could happen, Roberts said.

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