An investigation into a Jan. 21 Zoom-bombing attack that targeted a Black child of College employees has concluded that the perpetrators were students of color, Mount Greylock Regional School District Superintendent Jake McCandless said at a school committee meeting on Thursday.
According to the original incident report released by Mount Greylock Regional High School, one of the perpetrators joined a Zoom class while impersonating a Black student who was in the class. “While the class was wrapping up, the unknown student unmuted themself to allow a song to be heard by the entire Zoom class,” the report said. “The song involved the lyric ‘f**k the (n-word).’”
Because of the choice of victim and the language used in the song, the incident was presumed to be racist and anti-Black. McCandless said this may not have been the case, but emphasized the importance of how the victim experienced the incident.
“The investigation into this incident suggests that the incident was perhaps not racially motivated,” McCandless said. “In the end, an individual’s motivation sometimes doesn’t matter. What actually matters is how the victim of the incident perceived the motivation and the event.”
“I see the race of the young people who instigated this to be of little consequence,” he added in an email to the Record. “The incident felt the way it felt to the victim and to the family and community of the victim, and no matter what, we need to continue to work to being a more anti-racist school community.”
According to McCandless, one of the two perpetrators was a student in a neighboring school district — as had been previously reported — and the other was a student in the Mount Greylock school district. The student from the neighboring school district was the primary perpetrator, while the other student “allowed this [the incident] to happen,” McCandless said.
The Zoom-bomb incident has renewed concerns over racism in Williamstown, following a year in which the Town was rocked by several racist incidents. In October, a College staff member received an anti-Blackand threatening hate letter at their home, and in December, the chief of the Williamstown Police Department resigned following revelations of racist misconduct in the police force.