Richmond High students protest use of racial slur after substitute teacher fired

Hundreds of students at Richmond High School participated in a peaceful protest on campus Tuesday, one day after a substitute teacher was fired for attacking a student.

The sit out, led by the Black Student Union, was in protest of the use of the N-word on campus after a student allegedly used the racial slur when talking with a Black substitute teacher. The substitute was seen on video grabbing the student, throwing him to the floor, and forcibly removing the teen from the classroom.

Markeith Anderson, a junior and BSU member who organized the protest, said the protest began during the lunch hour and lasted until the end of the school day.

"It wasn’t right for that word to get used," Anderson said. "It gets tossed around on campus."

A spokesperson for the West Contra Costa Unified School District said the substitute teacher was immediately fired, and the student is OK.

The incident is under investigation.

Part of a statement from WCCUSD read, "It is our priority to ensure that staff and students are always able to interact in a safe and respectful manner.  Mental health resources are available to any Richmond High School student who needs to speak to someone for support, and we will be facilitating restorative actions in the classroom where this incident occurred."

"I believe there is no one side to it," Fatima Ramos, a senior, said. "They’re both at fault. Things escalated."

"I think [the teacher] was just at his limit because at Richmond High that word does get tossed around a lot, so we just want to stop it," Leonie Goff, a senior, said.

The incident happened Monday during an Intro to Ethnic Studies class for freshmen. The substitute has not been identified, but students told KTVU his name is Mr. Campbell and he was reportedly an assistant football coach.

"He was actually very well respected by all the students… everybody loved him," Rogelio Casillas, a junior, said. "Overall I just think it could have been handled better."

Black Student Union Advisor Kiraa Easter said the peaceful protest started during the lunch hour and lasted until the end of the school day. She said she was proud of students for organizing the effort. The group came up with the chant, "we stop, you stop." She hopes the incident sparks a culture change on campus.

"We don’t want to normalize it," Easter said. "It’s no longer normal to use this word if we don’t want others to use it, because now it’s being used out of context, and it’s being used for harm. If we stop, hopefully others will stop."

Richmond police are handling the criminal investigation and said the case could be classified as misdemeanor battery. 

It will be up to the District Attorney’s office to decide whether charged will be filed, according to Sgt. Donald Patchin.