Tri-State teens accused of participating in ‘disturbing’ online ‘George Floyd challenge’

Local teens accused of partaking in online 'George Floyd challenge'

GRANT COUNTY, Ky. (FOX19) - A new challenge circulating on social media shows people mocking the death of George Floyd, and now some local teenagers are accused of doing it.

Those doing the so-called ‘George Floyd Challenge’ pose for a picture or video with one person lying on the ground and another kneeling on that person’s back to simulate the moment of Floyd’s death.

There are reports of it happening in different communities in the Tri-State. Two Grant County teenagers are accused of participating.

Kentucky psychologist Dr. Ed Connor calls it inappropriate and hurtful.

“It’s a shame to make a mockery of something that is such a tragic event in our history as a nation," Connor said. “This isn’t something you’re just watching in a video game. This really did happen. A human being suffered, and a family suffered, and as a result, the nation has suffered.”

Grant County Schools posted a statement on Facebook:

"It has come to our attention that a photo and caption was posted earlier on the social media pages of two local youths that was in astonishingly poor judgement. Contact has been made with the parents of the youths and the post has been taken down, however, we are aware that screenshots may have been made that are still circulating.

Upon consultation with attorneys, we, as a district, cannot take disciplinary action against these youths as the activity did not occur on school property or at a school-related activity. However, in all situations in which we do have jurisdiction, we want to re-iterate: Grant County Schools will not tolerate violence or any harassment/discrimination in any form based on race, color, national origin, age, religion, sex or disability -- or against anyone for any reason. Additionally, we want to inform our students and parents that continued sharing of this or related posts – regardless of where it transpires -- to a level that appears threatening in any way, shape, or form, or incites panic or criminal action does, indeed, become criminal and charges may be filed outside the school arena.

We would like to encourage parents to be cognizant of not just social media posts and trends, but the whereabouts and activities of their children. Please ensure that all activities are inside parameters that promote the health, safety, or well-being of all."

“I think parents have to convey a sense of empathy for the family of George Floyd, and I think these discussions should be held with their children, especially if they’ve engaged in this type of behavior," Connor said.

Aubrie Seibert graduated from Grant County Schools. She gave a statement to share her perspective:

“The ‘George Floyd Challenge’ that Grant County students and many others have taken part in is absolutely a racist and insensitive ‘challenge.’ It is a disgusting event that mocks the murder of a black man who was strangled by a police officer, and anyone who does it should not be keeping any job/school/team position they hold because I firmly believe it is racist. It is not a joke or a misunderstanding, and for someone to be able to do something this disturbing and still go about their every day life with no discipline is disgusting. Everyone who is doing this knows exactly what they are doing. No one is accidentally racist, and everyone doing it should be held accountable.”

Connor says the challenge can be triggering and painful for many people. He hopes people will work together toward healing.

“Many individuals who have been in situations where perhaps there has been a sense of danger in the community because of the color of their skin will be traumatized by seeing this type of video, and I think it’s important to reach out to them,” Connor said.

According to the BBC, three teens in England are now facing charges for partaking in the challenge. Police there are treating it as a hate crime.

It is not clear if any local teens will be charged.

The Cincinnati NAACP released a statement regarding the challenge:

“We find it very troubling and repulsive. It shows zero sensitivity and is disgusting they would mock the manner in which George Floyd lost his life. It shows we have much further to go in our society to address those who are tone deaf and do not possess basic human empathy.”

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