North Bay students asked to make amends for anti-Semitism: school board
More fallout following the disturbing video that was circulating social media showing a group of students displaying anti-Semitic behaviour on the field at a North Bay school.
A video of a group of Grade 7 and 8 students at Ecole secondaire catholique Algonquin in North Bay was taken on Sept. 16 showing the youths giving the notorious 'heil Hitler' salute and shouting anti-Jewish slurs while marching on the school grounds.
The incident was a response to a social media challenge on Tik Tok to publicly promote hate on school grounds, the Franco-Nord school board said in a news release Friday – eight days after the event took place.
In response, several local leaders spoke out about the racism, including Mayor Al McDonald who told CTV News that "hate has no home in the city of North Bay." North Bay Police Chief Scott Tod said the "shameful" video was upsetting to watch.
The school board said the students involved are receiving consequences for their actions.
"This event has had consequences for these students as this type of behaviour is not tolerated in our schools," Conseil scolaire catholique Franco-Nord said.
School-wide education is underway and will involve various guest speakers.
"This group of students will also be asked to make a restorative gesture, just as public as their previous actions. They must acknowledge their lack of discernment, digital citizenship, and the extent to which they have harmed the well-being of community members in the region and even the country," the school board said. "We are heartbroken by what has happened."
McDonald said North Bay strives to be a welcoming and inclusive community.
"In today’s age, we need to speak out against racism and hate every time it happens," he said.
Tik Tok said it is making strides in countering hate on its platform in several different ways.
"We do not tolerate hate on TikTok. We remove hateful content – including race-based harassment – from our platform as we become aware of it. We also ban accounts that repeatedly promote it," Eric Han, head of safety with TikTok, said in a news release. "We have a zero-tolerance stance on organized hate groups and those associated with them, like accounts that spread or are linked to white supremacy or nationalism, male supremacy, antisemitism, and other hate-based ideologies. In addition, we remove race-based harassment and the denial of violent tragedies, such as the Holocaust and slavery. We may also take off-platform behaviour into consideration as we enforce our policies, such as an account belonging to the leader of a known hate group, to protect people against harm.
Tik Tok is also trying to make it harder for people to find hateful content and accounts in its search function.
"For instance, if someone searches for a hateful ideology or group, such as 'heil Hitler' or 'groyper,' we take various approaches to stop the spread of hate, including removing related content, refraining from showing results, or redirecting the search to our community guidelines to educate our community about our policies against hateful expression," Han said.
When asked if North Bay Police Service is considering laying any charges in connection to the incident at Algonquin secondary, spokesperson David Woolley told CTV News in an email "the police investigation into this incident is ongoing. No details can be released at this time."
With files from Jaime McKee, a reporter for CTV North Bay.