SPRINGFIELD — Police are investigating reports of an assault at a Springfield Elementary School involving two groups of students.
Monday morning Springfield police were called to Kenwood Elementary School about an incident that happened during recess Friday, according to an incident report obtained through a News Center 7 public records request.
Police were informed by the school’s principal that “a group of Black students had gathered several white students on a specific spot of the playground and forced them to state ‘Black Lives Matter’ against their will,”, the police report states.
Students who tried to avoid the situation were “chased down and escorted, dragged, or carried to the playground,” the report alleges. The group of students also allegedly filmed the students who were forced to make the statement.
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One student was punched in the head by one of the suspects, the police report states.
Springfield police have questioned multiple juveniles in the incident, according to the report.
Ryan Springer and Ashley Henthorne said their 12-year-old son was one of the students forced on the playground.
“I mean I’m angry as a parent but I understand they are children. It’s not okay to hate anybody because of their skin color, or their gender or sexual orientation, or anything like that. Nobody should be hating anybody,” Springer said.
He said there are things that he doesn’t believe children should have to worry about.
“They should just be worried about being children,” he said.
Springer said he does not understand why the staff did not intervene and that the incident should not have escalated.
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“Where was the school staff when all of this was taking place? And why? Why did it get so far?” he said.
Henthorne said she was not notified of the incident when it happened Friday, but noticed a change in her son. When she was notified of what happened Monday she said the changes she saw in her son made sense.
“I kept asking him all weekend, are you OK? And he kept saying, ‘yeah, I’m just tired’ And then when I got the phone call Monday about it, I was like, ‘that explained a lot.’” Henthrone said.
Their son has not wanted to return to school and Springer said he is “traumatized.”
“He’s like he’s kind of traumatized... he’s not a very confrontational kid. He’s got one of the biggest hearts of any kid around,” he said.
News Center 7 reached out to Springfield School District for a statement in response to the alleged assault.
“‘The Springfield City School District is committed to providing our students with a safe learning environment, where they look forward to attending every day. The District is aware of a situation that occurred at Kenwood Elementary. We are working closely with the Springfield Police Division on this matter to ensure that we maintain that safe environment. Because this is now a police matter, no additional information is available at this time.” a spokesperson said.
Springfield police told News Center 7 they are investigating whether the incident is a hate crime and working with prosecutors to review any possible formal charges.
This is a developing story and we will continue updating this story as we learn more.
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