Rochester public schools investigating racially charged image

Updated: 3:02 p.m. | Posted: 11:33 a.m.

Rochester Public Schools is investigating a racially charged picture circulated on social media, allegedly involving students at one of its schools.

The image shows three people, one in blackface and two others wearing white hoods covering their faces, similar to the Ku Klux Klan. The hooded figures are making what appears to be a Nazi salute.

The Snapchat image was circulated on Facebook yesterday by parents of children in the Rochester Public School District.

MPR News is not publishing the picture because it has not independently verified the authenticity of the photograph, or the names of the people featured in the picture.

But one of the people allegedly in the photo has been fired from a job at a Rochester Hy-Vee grocery store, according to a company spokesperson.

Individuals allegedly in the picture will no longer be proceeding with the process to join the U.S. Army because their behavior is "inconsistent with Army values," according to a service spokesperson.

"The Army does not tolerate inappropriate behavior by anyone within our ranks, to include recruits who have signed a contract to join in the future," said Marlene Bland with the 3rd Recruiting Brigade. "It is important for everyone on our team to live and demonstrate the Army values every day."

In a statement, Rochester Public Schools said state and federal data privacy laws prohibit releasing information about the students allegedly involved. The district says it will have additional staff on hand at the school in question Thursday to help students.

"It is important for our community to know that RPS strives to create a welcoming environment for students of all backgrounds and is committed to providing a learning environment that is free from discrimination," the RPS statement said. "The social media post is not a reflection of what our district students and staff believes and feels. We will use this as an opportunity to talk, educate, and grow as a community as we work to become even stronger and more inclusive to all students."

RPS said it will respond in an appropriate manner based on the results of its investigation.

Thursday afternoon a coalition of social justice groups issued a statement condemning the actions depicted in the photo.

Editor's note: This story has been updated in light of new information indicating the photo may not have originated on Snapchat.

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