Moline Police: Students who made video identified; state’s attorney to review case; school district plans separate investigation

Local News

SATURDAY EVENING UPDATE: Moline Police Chief Darren Gault issued an update shortly after 7:30 p.m. Saturday about a video with what he calls a “disturbing racist scene,” saying all students involved have been identified and the Rock Island County State’s Attorney’s Office will review the case.

He did not identify the students involved.

“The video depicted a disturbing racist scene involving a Moline High School football player in a locker room,” Gault says in the statement, which continues:

“The Moline Police Department immediately began to conduct an investigation into the incident. The victim was located and interviewed by detectives when the team bus returned to Moline around 11:20 p.m. (Friday.)

“Several Moline Police Department detectives conducted interviews all day on Saturday with multiple student athletes, coaches and staff of Moline High School.”

“Detectives have identified all athletes who were involved in the incident and the circumstances surrounding the video. Those involved are fellow high school football teammates. They are also individuals of both different and similar races to the victim.”

“The students directly involved in the video are all friends. Regardless of these facts, we all agree that this is a disgusting way to treat a fellow teammate, a fellow human and most certainly a friend.”

“The role of the police department is to gather facts related to potential criminal offenses of state law. The investigation has now been completed and on April 10, 2021, at approximately 6 p.m., the case was turned over to the State’s Attorney Dora Villarreal for review.”

“The Moline-Coal Valley School District has also been provided an initial summary of the investigation by the police and directly to the Superintendent. The school district will conduct a separate investigation of any school code violations or district policies and those will be different than criminal law.”

“Some terms such as hazing have different meaning in state law and school code of conduct. We all agree that regardless if the students viewed this as a joke, it is unacceptable behavior.”

“All subjects involved in the investigation, including parents, students, coaches and school district personnel were cooperative with the police department investigation and understand the gravity of the situation.”

This is a teaching moment for everyone and a reminder that we can do better. We can treat people better. We can be better friends. We can be better teammates. We can be better people.”

We can also stand up and confront situations when they are wrong. In doing so we can raise our morals and increase the respect we have for each other.”

Police still ask that anyone with additional information contact the dispatch center at 309-797-0401, make an anonymous report with the P3 smartphone application or call Crime Stoppers at 309-762-9500.

SATURDAY MORNING UPDATE: The Moline-Coal Valley School District on Saturday has released a statement about a student in a viral video who, police say, is friends with the students who filmed it.

Shortly after 11:15 a.m. Saturday, the district released this statement:

“Moline-Coal Valley School District was notified Friday evening of a disturbing and distressing video involving a Moline High School football player.

“The district is cooperating fully with law enforcement and will ensure a thorough investigation is completed.”

The vile behavior depicted in the video does not represent our core values and has no place in our learning community. Clearly, we have work to do.”

Decisive action will be taken upon the conclusion of both the law enforcement and the school district’s internal investigation. Student safety and a welcoming environment remain the top priority for all Moline-Coal Valley Schools.”

EARLIER UPDATE: Moline Police have released a statement that a student in a viral video is friends with the students who filmed it.

In the statement, released shortly before 12:30 a.m. Saturday, Moline Police Chief Darren Gault says about 7:30 p.m. Friday, Moline Police became aware of a video circulating on social media that depicts a “disgusting and disturbing racist scene of bullying and assault of a Moline High School football player in a locker room.”

At the time the video was discovered, football players, “including the victim player,” were out of
town for a football game, Gault said.

Immediately, the Moline Police Department Criminal Investigation Division began an investigation into the video and the circumstances surrounding it. About 11:20 p.m. Friday, the high-school football team bus returned to Moline and was met by Moline Police detectives.

Police have located the victim and were gathering more information.

“We are aware that the victim knows the individuals who filmed the incidents,” Gault says. “We are aware they are teammates and may be friends. Regardless of these facts, the incident is disturbing.”

In an email with the statement attached, Gault says the victim is friends with the students who participated in filming the video. “We would appreciate the media assisting us in calming the public as we investigate this incident,” he adds.

Moline Police say the incident will be investigated separately by Moline Police Department and the Moline-Coal Valley School District. The criminal investigation will be conducted by the
police department and any school-code violations will be investigated by the school district.

Once the police department completes the criminal investigation, the facts gathered will be presented to the Rock Island County State’s Attorney Dora Villarreal for review.

“The role of the police in this incident is to determine if there is a criminal violation related to law. The school will have a different role and a different set of school rules that may have been violated.”

“We all agree that this incident is unacceptable, disturbing and disgusting,” Gault says. “There is no debate. Regardless if students viewed this as a joke, it is unacceptable.”

EARLIER: Moline’s Mayor-Elect and outgoing School Board President, Sangeetha Rayapati, released a statement on the video Friday night, which is attached below.

As out-going President of the Moline-Coal Valley School Board and Mayor-Elect of Moline, I want to address the incident many in our community observed online Friday night, involving members of our high school football team.  As a human, I’m frustrated, dismayed, and appalled—among many other emotions. As a community leader and elected official, I know I, myself and fellow leaders have a responsibility to hold individuals involved in this incident accountable and intend to do just that. 

We must choose wisely, how we treat each other.  We must choose kindness, understanding and respect, and we have a duty as parents, role models and leaders to model this respect to each other each and every day. We must hold ourselves accountable for this incident occurring in our community and educate our children that this behavior is unacceptable. Because these are all of our children–those who have done egregious things and those who have had a terrible thing done to them.  No one has a right to dehumanize their classmate or teammate.  

I am a person of color.  I know what it means to be the only person in the room like yourself.  I know what it means to be misunderstood.  Our children deserve, especially in a school or school activity, to be understood and treated with respect and our entire community needs to be there for that.  Our entire community has a responsibility to decide what behavior we will not accept.  

I speak from the heart when I say we have a responsibility to teach them a better way.  It’s awful to know a child was treated that way.  It’s awful to know that that child will be marked forever by the incident and the disrespect they received. And it’s awful to know other children would see this as a joke. 

We must let investigations take place according to appropriate protocols to address this behavior, but we can turn toward our neighbors, and show them the good that is in all of us.  We can find ways to reassure our children that they don’t have to fear this kind of treatment in Moline. There is no place for hate in Moline, and it is my mission to continue to make Moline a welcoming place for ALL—no matter your age, background, or color of your skin.

ORIGINAL: The Moline Police Department has posted a Facebook message that it is aware of an incident that occurred (Friday) at Moline High School that was videotaped and is now circulating on social media.

“We are working with the Moline-Coal Valley School District to identify those involved,” the post reads.

The video, about 12 seconds in length, appears to take place in a locker room. It shows a Black student, with other people jeering in the background, as he is coerced into a seat with bananas hanging above it. One person is heard off-camera screaming at the beginning of the video, “– in the chair or I’ll break off your knees.”

Police ask anyone with information about the incident to call police at 309-524-2140 (Investigations Division), report information anonymously using the P3 smartphone application or call Crime Stoppers of the Quad Cities at 309-762-9500.

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