Coconut Creek, FL – Five middle school students have been charged with hate crimes after a racially-motivated attack on white classmates on Wednesday at a recreation center near Lyons Creek Middle School in Coconut Creek.
The incident occurred before school started on the morning of March 9 at the Coconut Creek Recreation Center located a short walk from the middle school, WTVJ reported.
Coconut Creek police said that four white students, ages 11 and 12, were approached by another group of five students who “racially profiled” them and beat them up.
The victims told police that the group approached them yelling “It’s Opposite Day!” and “Brown Power,” according to WTVJ.
Police said the attackers hit and kicked the other students, and whipped them with phone charger cords.
“The group looked at [the student] and stated ‘he is white’ before another student tackled him to the ground which subsequently allowed the group of middle school kids to start hitting him with their hands, feet and phone chargers,” according to the police report.
One student had just been dropped off at the recreation center before school the day of the attack, his father told WSVN.
“He got out of the car. I think he heard some noises, and some kids started saying, ‘We’re gonna get revenge on you for what you did in the past,’ and he got jumped. They hit him and ran off to some other kids and kept going,” Frank Foster, the father of one of the victims, said.
His son told WTVJ that a group of students from his school ran over and “jumped” him and the other victims.
The student said his attackers hit him and kicked him.
“I put my hands up so they don’t whack my face,” he explained. “After they jumped me, they said, this is, like, revenge for what they did in the 1700s for slavery.”
Five students from Lyons Creek Middle School were arrested and charged with battery, WTVJ reported.
The police report described the students who were arrested as being between 11 and 15 years old, and both black and white, mostly with Hispanic last names, WKMG reported.
The arrest report said the charges were filed “with prejudice,” which elevated the battery charge to a felony, WTVJ reported.
The battery charge would be a misdemeanor but the hate crime allegations bumped it up to a felony, WKMG reported.
“We are disappointed to take law enforcement action in response to a racially-motivated crime by school-aged children within the city of Coconut Creek. This is an extremely rare occurrence in our community, but these are children, and as such, poor judgement can occur,” Coconut Creek Police Chief Butch Arenal said in a statement.
Broward County Public Schools were quick to put out a statement denying any responsibility for the incident that occurred off-campus, WTVJ reported.
But that wasn’t good enough for the father of one of the boys who was attacked for being white.
“They can’t do anything to the other kids because it didn’t happen on school property,” Foster told WTVJ. “He wants to go back to school there because all of his friends are there, but he doesn’t feel safe. There’s an opportunity to move out, but that seems like a punishment.”
Police said none of the children were seriously hurt in the attack, WKMG reported.
“He’s scared to go back to school around the same kids in the hallways,” Foster told WSVN. “It’s concerning what’s going on in the school and they don’t really seem to be doing much about it. The steps they take don’t really protect the kids. The options are to go to a different school and run away or be in the same school with the same kids again.”