LAVACA, Ark. – A video posted to social media is that appears to show students in a small Arkansas bullying a student using the name of a civil rights pioneer is leading to an investigation.
In the video, Alyssa Shaw, a biracial 7th grader of Lavaca Middle School, is seen getting on the bus after basketball practice as students appear chant “Rosa Parks,” the name of the civil rights icon who refused to give up her bus seat to a white man in 1955.
The video has sparked an investigation conducted by the school district and the Lavaca Police Department.
Alyssa claims the students shouted, “Rosa Parks, Black Lives Matter, come to the back of the bus, you have no rights” on February 22, 2022.
Video seen by KARK 4 News only shows students chanting “Rosa Parks.” Alyssa, 13, said the bullying didn’t stop when she got off the bus.
“When we got off the bus, two boys came behind me and my friend and asked why I didn’t come to the back of the bus? ‘We had a seat reserved for you Mrs. Rosa Parks,’” she claimed.
Alyssa said her first encounter with racism came back in October when a student told her “I hate black people.” She was caught off guard to have multiple classmates involved in the bus chants.
“I don’t think they handle it well at all, and you see where it escalated to 4 months later” Becky Burris, Alyssa’s mom who is white, said.
Burris feels if an example was made by the district from her daughter’s encounter in October, then she wouldn’t have experienced the “Rosa Parks” chants.
Lavaca superintendent Steve Ross said the district is close to finishing its investigation of the bus incident, releasing a statement to KARK 4 News that said in part, “those students whose behaviors and actions constituted bullying will be held accountable for their actions. In no way shape, or form is bullying of any kind to be tolerated.”
Chief Charles Toon with the Lavaca Police Department said when the school finishes its investigation, the police department will begin theirs. After that, he will turn the police department’s findings into the prosecuting attorney’s office.
Students involved could face harassment charges. Toon said he has received over 40 police statements on the bus incident and spoke with multiple witnesses.
Burris said she went to the police department so “maybe they can understand that we’re all people. Doesn’t matter what the color of her skin is or my skin.”
Alyssa said she is speaking out because she wants people to know that this isn’t okay and should not happen again.
She plans to finish out the 3rd quarter of this school year at Lavaca before transferring at the start of the final quarter, saying this is to not give students that were involved any satisfaction.