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Racially insensitive photos of Baltimore area students spark outrage

Several Baltimore area private schools have come under fire after photos arose of some students and alumni wearing racially insensitive Halloween costumes.

One of the photos depicts a recent graduate from the Boys’ Latin School of Maryland wearing an orange jumpsuit with the name “Freddie Gray” written on the back.

Another image shows a male student of Gilman School and a female student of Roland Park Country School posing in orange clothing for a Snapchat photo captioned with a racial slur, saying they “broke out.” The photo was taken by a student from Mount Saint Joseph High School.

A third picture featuring someone from St. Paul’s School was the most explicit, showing a shirtless male with several swastikas, racial slurs and a depiction of male genitalia on his back.

The public release of these images gathered together was from an unrelated student who posted them on Facebook in an effort to shame the perpetrators of these acts. The original post has since been deleted, but not before pictures and screenshots were posted on Twitter and other sites.

One Twitter comment reads, “This is the culture that pervades in MD’s nearly all white private schools.” Another expressed skepticism about the response to the situation, stating, “Im sure they wont be reprimanded by anyone” (sic).

Others, however, were more extreme in tone, with calls for vigilante or violent action against the students involved.

A joint statement released by representatives from both Gilman School and Roland Park Country School stated, “Know that we take any situation involving our students seriously, and this is no exception,” adding that the photos were taken outside of the schools by people who did not attend either school. They also asked for the privacy of the students, who were minors.

The headmaster of Gilman School additionally expressed personal condolences for the situation, noting in a letter, “This situation has troubled and disappointed me deeply… they [the students involved] express values and beliefs that run counter to the kind of community that we seek to build at Gilman, to the character of young men that we strive to educate, and to the type of world that we hope our graduates will help to build.” Roland Park Country School took this a step further, inviting a professor from Loyola University of Maryland to speak about the incident and how it relates to broader social issues.

Statements from representatives of Boys’ Latin School, Mount Saint Joseph High School and St. Paul’s School denounced the incident as well, using terms like “cannot be tolerated” and “deeply troubled” to express their feelings on the situation.

While denunciations of the students in the photos were nearly universal, the broader debate of whether Halloween costumes insensitive to cultural norms should be regulated still persists, with the issue being contentious for many.