January 31, 2023
Annapolis, US 38 F

State’s Attorney, police, and school condemn racist comments on AACPS website; no prosecution

Racist AACPS
Partial screenshot of racist lyrics posted on Anne Arundel County Schools’ Blackboard website.

Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney Wes Adams released the following statement today regarding the August 25, 2015, posting of lyrics from the “Moonman Notorious” KKK Rap Remix song on an Anne Arundel County Public Schools resource website (Blackboard).

“My office has reviewed the facts of this case. Maryland and Constitutional law limits my office’s response to this reprehensible post to condemnation only, and not a criminal prosecution. We were able to identify two particular households where this post may have originated. However, our ability to identify a specific individual who posted this material was hampered by the limited data retention policies of the third-party party hosting service for the Blackboard website.

There is no place for such egregiously harmful speech in our society, especially in a public space where children have access.  We stand with the NAACP, the Anne Arundel County Police Department, Anne Arundel County Public Schools, and the community at large in decrying this post as unfit for publication anywhere. I would also like to acknowledge the school system for taking immediate steps to prevent this kind of public access from happening again.

Therefore, my office made the following recommendations to the school system:

  1. Work diligently with Blackboard to achieve an improved level of security such that users are more easily found if abusing the intended purpose of an educational website.
  2. Firmly and swiftly address such issues with school officials, parents, students, and the community.
  3. Provide ongoing education pertaining to the etiquette and monitoring of electronic educational resources.
  4. Encourage parents to actively monitor the actions of their children.”

On August 25, 2015, a racist post was discovered on the Severn River Middle School Blackboard website. Those responsible for the post used a general user name and password to log into Blackboard.

“While we are disappointed that the guilty individual(s) cannot be definitively identified, I affirm the meticulous work undertaken by the Anne Arundel County Police Department and the Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney,” said Rev. Stephen Tillett, President of the Anne Arundel County NAACP. “Over one hundred man hours were devoted to this investigation.  The limits of legal statutes and technological challenges have prevented us from being able to identify the perpetrator(s) with 100% certainty, but everyone touched by this investigation certainly knows they are being watched.  As a result of this post, an important conversation has begun amongst these entities and African American community leaders; it is clear that Anne Arundel County law enforcement has placed a high priority on investing all resources to ensure the safety of our citizens, and to help stop racist tirades.”

Police conferred with internet providers, phone companies, and digital forensics experts.

“I am very proud of our officers and digital forensic detectives that worked very hard on this case,” said Anne Arundel County Police Chief Tim Altomare. “They worked extremely hard to identify the party responsible for the hateful posts placed on Blackboard. Without being able to define a criminal offense, we simply could not take further investigative steps in this case. However, officers did have meaningful conversations with both households as to the serious nature of this event. The Anne Arundel County Police Department joins the NAACP, the Board of Education and the State’s Attorney’s Office in condemning the racist speech in the post in question.”

School officials immediately deleted the post and have worked with Blackboard to improve the security of the website.

“We are grateful to State’s Attorney Adams and his team, and to Chief Altomare and his department, for their thorough work on this case,” Superintendent of Schools George Arlotto said. “There is nothing positive or tolerable in the revolting lyrics copied and posted online, and our school system took swift action to delete them and prevent further such postings immediately upon becoming aware of them. While further action on this matter may not be possible, we will remain vigilant and attentive to these issues, continue to do everything we can to create atmospheres of tolerance and understanding throughout our school system, and quickly address instances where individuals choose to act in opposition to those ideals. We welcome the partnership of the community in these ongoing efforts.”

Source: Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney’s Office

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