The teen appeared in court on Wednesday.
On November 14, a 14-year-old student at Naperville Central High School allegedly took a photo of a black classmate and posted it on Craiglist with the caption that read "Slave for sale (Naperville)" and included other racial slurs. The teen - who will remain unnamed since he is a minor - has been charged with two counts of a hate crime, both felonies, and one count of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor, Naperville police said in a statement. He appeared in juvenile court on Wednesday, but reportedly did not speak during the hearing. Prosecutors called the allegations “serious and aggravating,” and said the alleged actions put the victim’s safety at risk.
Police started investigating the incident when they learned of it four days later, but the victim's mother found out what happened the following day. Tamara Wallace received multiple calls at work, one of them being from the perpetrator's mother who described her son's action as a "bad prank." According to Wallace, the two boys were close friends in junior high, but recently had a falling out.
“He didn’t know what was going on,” Wallace said. “He was the butt of jokes for days." A classmate approached Wallace's son and told him, “I’ll buy you for a dollar." Wallace shared that she was extremely disappointed in the school for only giving the teen who made the Craiglist post a two-day suspension and for initially attempting to handle the situation internally. According to The Chicago Tribune, she said the boy’s actions deserve more than a school suspension and she is thankful that the police got involved.
The mayor of the Chicago suburb where this took place, Steve Chirico, issued a statement Wednesday condemning “any acts of racism or intolerance in Naperville’s borders. I want us to be known and applauded for being the caring, inclusive, and welcoming community I see firsthand every day, not as a place where hate lives," he said. "Naperville needs to showcase our leadership in speaking out against racism and make it known that our legacy is one of diversity, inclusion and civility — not hate."