A group of Cedar City teens went viral on social media after being documented wearing prison clothes and blackface at the local Walmart on Monday, Oct. 31. The individuals have not been identified as Southern Utah University students.
The original video of the incident, which has now been made private on the user’s account, shows a group of at least eight teenagers, three of which were wearing blackface. One of the teens wore a police officer’s outfit, and the others were not in costume.
The video has been shared numerous times on multiple social media platforms, with some shares reaching hundreds of thousands of likes.
On Nov. 1, Southern Utah University released a statement regarding the incident:
“Events such as this affect our entire community. We stand against racism and denounce any kind of discriminatory behavior, including what is shown in this video.”
SUU also advocated for creating a community where diversity and equality are embraced.
“At SUU, we are committed to fostering an inclusive community, we affirm the inherent dignity and value of every person and we strive to maintain an atmosphere of belonging.”
The statement was made one week after SUU held its first annual Summit on Belonging, where speakers helped faculty and staff members create an environment of inclusion.
The Cedar City Police Department released a statement on Nov. 1, stating that the department is aware of the altercation:
“Cedar City Police has since been contacted by a citizen who was present during the incident and has initiated an investigation. We are actively monitoring social media.”
The department also encouraged the public to avoid harassing those involved with the incident on social media:
“While topics such as these can cause an emotional reaction, we encourage everyone to be mindful when sharing videos of juveniles on social media, including any cyber or other harassment that can accompany this type of incident.”
Utah Gov. Spencer J. Cox responded to the video through a statement and voiced his disapproval of the incident.
“We strongly condemn racism in all its forms, and we call on every Utahn to reject such offensive stereotypes, slurs and attitudes,” Cox said.
SUU finished its statement by endorsing active conversation to help avoid altercations such as this.
“As a community partner, we are engaging in conversations that help us identify ways to advance a sense of belonging and safety both on and off campus.”
A representative from SUU’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion shared a statement for students interested in learning more about similar issues:
“Students who would like to learn more about racism, prejudice and exclusion are welcome to come to the Center for Diversity and Inclusion. Our staff and student leaders are here to share their experiences and the historical context that is critical to understanding incidents such as this.”
Story and Photo by: Luke McKenzie