Buckley students expelled for hanging Obama doll

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by By DREW MIKKELSEN / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 1:36 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 24 at 4:53 PM

Video: Buckley students expelled for hanging Obama doll

BUCKLEY, Wash. - A group of Pierce County teenagers have been kicked out of school for a prank involving President-elect Barack Obama that some say is racist.

Five students at White River High School in Buckley are accused of hanging a doll of Obama with a rope by its neck in what appears to be a mock lynching.

The incident happened last Thursday when the doll was hung in a main hallway.

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"We usually go hang out there in the mornings before school so everyone would have seen it," said one student.

Since it happened after school, not a lot of students saw it, but almost everyone has heard about it.

"It's a hate crime. You should like people for who they are," said one student.

"I think it's ridiculous. I think it's crazy," said parent Cassie McMillan.

The school superintendent says while the district investigates, the five students have received emergency expulsion until further notice.

"Obviously, we take those things very seriously. It's not representative of the culture we want to create," said superintended Tom Lockyer.

Two of the expelled students tell KING 5 News they had nothing to do with the prank.

Most students and parents think the punishment is just.

"That's just proving that there is racism and there should be zero tolerance for that, plain and simple," said McMillan.

"They didn't think it was going to hurt that many people and they're sorry about it," said Julie Varelmann. She knows some of the students expelled. She thinks it should be punished, but wonders if the district is overreacting.

"If there was a doll about McCain hanging, would it be that big of a deal?" said Varelmann.

The superintendent says had the doll been of Sen. John McCain, the district would have taken the exact same action. He also says depending how the investigation goes, law enforcement could be contacted.

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