NuPhaeya Hassen’s story is a prime example of how one knows racism is taught. The eight grade La Loma Junior High School student learned just how ugly those teachings can be when put into practice August 24 when she was attacked by her 12-year-old classmate and his older sister who attends Downey High School in Modesto, CA.
According to The Modesto Bee, the problems started when NuPhaeya was waiting for the bus and her classmate approached her with sticks in his hand. According to the pre-teen, the boy held the objects in the shape of a cross and told her he was a member of the Ku Klux Klan and raised as a “skinhead.” He then began swinging the sticks at her and scratching her arm. When NuPhaeya slapped her peer in response, he then went across the street and began throwing rocks at her until the bus game.
Unfortunately, NuPhaeya’s troubles didn’t stop there. After school, the boy’s freshman sister waited for NuPhaeya confront her about slapping her brother and when she tried to walk away, the older girl reportedly grabbed her hair, pulled her to ground and started hitting her in the head repeatedly. It wasn’t until a few passersby began honking, pulling over their cars and getting out of them that they stopped. The Modesto Bee notes:
Modesto police spokeswoman Heather Graves confirmed that on Friday the boy was cited and released to his parents on suspicion of committing a hate crime and battery.
She wouldn’t discuss the details of the incident but confirmed, “Words exchanged between a male and female which included racial slurs and the female was assaulted in the process.”
She said the case will be forwarded to the Stanislaus County Probation Department within the next week for review.
The boy’s older sister also will be cited for battery, Graves said.
While that may sound like swift justice, there’s one caveat: NuPhaeya was also given one day of in-school suspension, which administrators labeled a “cool-down period” following the incident, a move the girl’s grandmother is not tolerating. Speaking on the disciplinary action note her granddaughter received, Rita Tillary noted:
“It never said anything about why the slap (happened) … not that racial slurs were thrown at her, not the scratch on her arm, not the knots on her head. She got suspended for a day for defending herself.”
It’s this omission that promoted Rita to get Frank Johnson, president of the local chapter of the NAACP, involved. Speaking on the suspension of the other kids for their actions and the fact that they have since returned to school, with the older sister now being in a counseling program, Johnson said, “You have police involved to the point that, if it was an adult who did these actions, it would be considered a felony, and you are talking extreme racism.”
Paralegals for the NAACP are now typing a brief to document the district’s handling of the incident in case it decides to take legal action down the line. Meanwhile Chrissy Mastras, executive assistant to the Superintendent maintains the school did their part. “We handled it, and handled it properly, but now it is in the hands of the Modesto Police Department.”
Assistant Probation Chief Mike Hamasaki said the case will be reviewed by the department’s Juvenile Intake and Investigation Unit “to decide whether the case is worthy to take to the District Attorney’s Office to file charges.”
Image Credits: ModBee