LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles County sheriff’s detectives are investigating an assault on a 12-year-old middle school boy in Calabasas who may have been targeted after a Facebook group urged students to beat up redheads, a sheriff’s official said Saturday.
The boy was kicked and hit in two separate incidents on the campus of A.E. Wright Middle School in Calabasas by as many as 14 of his classmates, Lt. Richard Erickson said. The students who participated in the attack may have been motivated by a Facebook message telling them that Nov. 20 was “Kick a Ginger Day,” Erickson said, but had few other details about the message.
A “ginger” is label given to people with red hair, freckles and fair skin. Erickson said the victim has red hair. He said the Facebook message stems from an episode of the animated TV show “South Park.” A show in 2005 focused on prejudice against “gingers.”
The incident occurred about 8:30 a.m. Friday. The boy sought help from the school nurse, who contacted the principal. Sheriff’s officials arrived on campus shortly afterward. “He was accosted by seventh- and then eighth-graders,” Erickson said. “He was kicked and hit with fists in various areas of the body.”
No arrests have been made. Detectives are investigating the incident as a possible assault with a deadly weapon.
Deputies believe there may have been other victims but no other students have come forward. The principal of A.E. Wright, Kimmarie Taylor, could not be reached for comment Saturday.
One parent, Steve Bernal, said he was told that school officials made a public address announcement about discrimination and then teachers led discussions about the topic in their classrooms.
Bernal said he was upset about what happened but glad that the school responded so well. He said he was concerned about how the Internet may have motivated the students involved.
“How does this happen off of Facebook?” he said. “Doesn’t Facebook monitor these groups that are being created?”