Students' spirit week costumes spark controversy

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SUFFOLK, Va. (WTKR) - Suffolk City Public School administrators say they are looking into a matter involving four students allegedly wearing controversial costumes.

In pictures sent to News 3, three teenage females are dressed as police officers and one teen is dressed as an inmate holding a Black Lives Matter sign.

The students wore the costumes as part of Spirit Week at Nansemond River High School.

The school sent a letter home to parents Wednesday afternoon.

According to the school, the girls were dressed as "cops & robber" for Character Day and the Black Lives Matter sign was not part of their costumes. The school said that the students took pictures with the sign to show their personal support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

News 3 spoke to students outside the school and most said this situation was being blown out of portion.

Student Angela Bardelli said, "I know the four personally and they didn't mean for to be racist, it looks really racist but they're trying to spread awareness."

School district officials said the girls wanted to bring light to the Black Lives Matter Movement and regretted that the images were depicted in a negative way.

Student Elizabeth Best said the girls had good intentions and many students were talking about it. "People arguing about who's right and who's wrong," said Best.

Student Alex Hull said, "I think it was intended to be a joke and got taken out of context."
Student Danielle Douglas said,"I don't think they should've done it but I don't think that they should've been penalized."

Nijha Shanon said the images were taken out of context and said, "We are trying to get T-shirts to support them."

"It was really blown out of proportion because it's spirit week and they were supporting the movement and it was really blown out of proportion," said student Joshua Crocker said, "four cheerleaders came together to support a movement with what's happening in the world right now and you have people of the African-American race taking offense to the statement."

Student Gordon Westray said, "People need to come together and instead of taking division .... we shouldn't have division over something that small."
Nathan Foster said, "I feel like they went around it the wrong way of doing it, but I know they meant right but the way they went around doing it is just wrong."
Student Cassidy Simmons said, "I think was blown out of proportion and none of them are racist."
News 3 spoke to the mother of one of the teens who said she had no comment about the situation.

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