Lee County NAACP hosts news conference regarding ‘racist culture’ at school

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The Lee County NAACP held a news conference in front of Babcock Neighborhood School, and called for victims and neighbors to come together to speak out against what they call the “racist culture” at the school.

The news conference Thursday comes after multiple racial discrimination lawsuits were filed against Babcock Neighborhood School.

Three families are seeking justice for their children, who they said were called names like “monkey” and “cotton picker.”

There was also a picture of a bi-racial student at Babcock Neighborhood School photoshopped in a cotton field and a video of volleyball players taunting a black teammate.

The NAACP and the attorneys representing three families suing the school claim these are examples of what goes on inside these school walls.

Also, the NAACP branch of Lee County is filing a federal civil rights complaint and calling for the leaders of the school to be fired.

Lee County NAACP president James Muwakkil was joined by Connie Payne, president of the Charlotte County NAACP. Also in attendance was Joe North and Joe North Jr., the attorneys representing the three families suing the school. Members of the Babcock Diversity group, people who live in the community also joined.

Together, they announced the Department of Justice has responded to the call from the Lee County NAACP to get involved.

According to a spokesman with the Babcock Diversity Group, the U.S. Attorneys Office in Tampa will help facilitate a program called United against Hate.

Muwakkil said there will be more details to come in the days ahead.

Speakers at Thursday’s news conference also called on the principal and multiple teachers and coaches at Babcock Neighborhood School to resign and called on the school to take immediate action.

The Florida Charter School Alliance, the group representing Babcock Neighborhood School declined WINK News’ request for an interview. Instead, the group sent this statement, Thursday:

“On September 27th, Babcock Neighborhood School offered via telephone to Mr. Muwakkil and in writing to meet with the NAACP.  The proposed meeting included the School’s Principal and Governing Board chair.  They did not respond.  The Principal had multiple conversations with representatives of the Babcock Diversity Crew, which includes representatives of the NAACP.  A meeting was set for October 17th which was cancelled by the Babcock Diversity Crew and has not been rescheduled.  The School remains ready, willing, and able to meet with the NAACP.  This offer was reiterated to Mr. Muwakkil today via telephone and written correspondence.”

WINK News asked Muwakkil why the Lee County NAACP did not respond to these requests.

“We’ll meet with them, but it will not solve why we’re meeting with them,” said Muwakkil. “Students need to be disciplined.”

WINK News asked what the NAACP wants the school to do at this moment.

“Have zero tolerance from this point on for any type of racial aggression– zero tolerance– and let there be consequences and accountability if students do not comply,” said Muwakkil.

Attorneys North and North Jr. compared the racial discrimination at Babcock Neighborhood School to an onion and said they’re peeling more layers back day after day.

North Jr. said his law firm is working with two more families on two more lawsuits against Babcock Neighborhood school and anticipates more families to come forward.

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