A Monterey County high school is under investigation after district officials were made aware of students posting racist, "disturbing images and videos" on social media.
Students at Salinas High School created the Instagram account Shaniqua.shs, which showcased pictures and videos of a Black baby doll named Shaniqua. The account had 37 posts and more than 70 followers before it was deactivated, but screenshots and recordings captured before the account was taken down continue to circulate online and among students.
The account showcased photos and videos of students posing with the doll, some with racial slurs in the captions. In some videos that have resurfaced, students can be seen stomping on the doll.
At a football game Friday night, more students and parents became aware of the account after the doll was passed around, according to the Mercury News, and Salinas Union High School District officials were made aware of the account by Saturday.
On Sunday, a petition was created on change.org calling for the school to address the situation. Since then, more than 9,800 signatures have been added.
"Students cannot learn and be in a safe environment if they’re surrounded by people who will spread hate toward them because of their skin color," the petition reads.
In a statement released the same day, district officials said a full investigation is underway.
"The SUHSD does not condone this type of behavior, and although the district has taken steps to support our African American students and staff, this recent incident demonstrates how much more support is needed," officials said in a statement. "We are committed to maintaining a safe, positive school environment where all students, staff, parents/guardians and community members are treated with respect and dignity."
Monterey County Supervisor Luis Alejo, whose district includes much of Salinas, tweeted that "racism has no place in our schools and community" and described the account as "outright hurtful."
"These acts remind us why we must better educate our students to be better citizens of our community and understand that racism must not be tolerated anywhere," Alejo shared on his Twitter account. "Salinas is and must always be better than this!”
The Monterey County NAACP released a statement Monday after meeting with the principal urging the school to send a strong message that such racist acts won't be tolerated. The National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People said those involved in the incident have been identified as "student leaders."
Officials with the Salinas Union High School District, which was slated to meet Tuesday night, declined further comment about the incident beyond the statement that was issued over the weekend.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.