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Mount Pleasant cop disciplined after texting 'veiled threat' about student who spoke out on racial tensions

RACINE — A Mount Pleasant Police Department officer faced discipline after sending vaguely threatening messages about a Racine Lutheran High School student last fall, but the department has declined to disclose what that discipline was.

Officer Casey Smith, who volunteered with Racine Lutheran High School’s football program, sent a vaguely threatening message about a RLHS student who was speaking out about the racial tensions in the school.

“I can’t wait to catch his a** in traffic,” the message sent from Smith to another student read.

Darryl Morin, president of Forward Latino, called the texts “a veiled threat” in October, when his nonprofit began organizing with Racine Lutheran students.

After an internal investigation, the department found that Officer Smith’s actions violated department policies.

The Journal Times twice requested the disciplinary records to find out how exactly Smith was reprimanded, but both requests were rejected.

The MPPD rejections enumerated seven reasons to deny the requests, with reasons ranging from protecting “privacy interests of the individual employee,” that “release of some of these records could hamper the department’s ability to conduct thorough internal investigations by discouraging department personnel from giving pertinent confidential information” and that “Disclosure of these records runs counter to the Department’s interests in maintaining the confidentiality of some personnel records of its employees.”

RLHS did not respond to multiple requests for comment regarding Smith’s current involvement with the football team or whether he faced discipline from the school.

The text message came to light amid a spike in racial tensions after several race-related incidents were reported at RLHS. Incidents included students wearing shirts with a brick pattern and the words “Trump’s border wall” to a homecoming volleyball tournament. A little more than a month later, social media posts by a RLHS student used racial slurs and posed with their foot on another student’s neck with the caption “#GeorgeFloyd challenge.”

The Racine Interfaith Coalition at first worked with the school and families with the hope of initiating sensitive conversations. RIC Co-Presidents Linda Boyle and Tamerin Hayward say families they were working with have since withdrawn, allegedly because they feared their children would face backlash from their classmates. The coalition also was unsuccessful in its attempts to learn what discipline Smith faced, saying they were “stonewalled” after appealing not only to the MPPD and RLHS, but also the Mount Pleasant Village Board.

“There seemed to be nowhere else to go with it, which was unfortunate,” Hayward said, “but we hope people have followed along and those who are concerned about it will think twice about enrolling their kids there.”

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