Landon School students recorded racial slurs on DC subway
Jose Romero recorded the video while on a Red Line train heading to Glenmont on Thursday. When he boarded the car at the Metro Center station, it was packed with dozens of students, some wearing shirts and backpacks from Landon — a Bethesda University prep school. All the teenagers seemed to be facing a loudspeaker in the center of the car, and they were singing when Romero intervened.
Romero, who is Latino, couldn’t understand what the students were saying until a song he recognised, “Freestyle” by rapper Lil Baby, was played. Romero began recording video, with his camera facing the back of the students’ heads as they sang three verses containing the n-word. Someone in the video appears to draw attention to the students uttering the racial slur by saying “Yo, yo” before the song stops and the group of students laugh.
In a statement, a school spokeswoman said “offensive conduct and language by students is unacceptable and contrary to our school values and our code of civility.” Asked about any sanctions the students would face, the spokeswoman said any disciplinary action taken would be confidential, given the age of the students.
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A young black woman near the center of the car dropped her jaw in shock and made eye contact with Romero because “we couldn’t believe what we were seeing or hearing,” Romero said.
Another video shows the group of teenagers banging the windows and top of the subway car as they shout profanity about Gonzaga High School. Gonzaga College High School is a private Catholic college preparatory high school in the district. Landon’s soccer team was playing Gonzaga that night.
Romero posted both videos online and tagged Landon’s social media accounts. Her post caught the attention of other DC-area influencers, including Claudia Conway – the daughter of Kellyanne Conway, an adviser to former President Donald Trump – who called the behavior “so disgusting” in a comment.
A dean from Landon contacted him the next morning with further questions about what had happened in the subway car, Romero said, including whether he had heard any student nicknames that could help identify who was involved. School administrators had already identified two students in the video and planned to speak to them, the dean told Romero.
“I made it clear to him that it is impossible to tell who is saying [the n-word] and who isn’t,” Romero, 44, said. “I think you can’t really single out one person, but the school really should consider this a teaching moment… for these students.”
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Since posting the video, Romero has received comments from what appeared to be students at the school. He said he has since restricted such comments from appearing publicly to protect students from being targeted by other users online.
The Landon School teaches nearly 700 students between ninth and 12th grade. The school’s alumni network includes Nicholas Hammond, an actor best known for his roles as Friedrich von Trapp in ‘The Sound of Music’; Maury Povich, the former host of the reality TV show “Maury”; and Rufus King, former Chief Justice of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. The student body is approximately 41% students of color, according to its website.