SeMarion Humphrey is the Texas teenager whose mother says has been bullied relentlessly at Haggard Middle School in Plano, Texas, for two years. His mother, Summer Smith, said the situation reached its breaking point when she said her 13-year-old son was forced to drink urine at a sleepover. The incident was recorded and shared on social media.
According to the family’s attorney, Kim Cole, Humphrey was also shot with BB guns, physically beaten and called racial slurs by his former football teammates during the sleepover party. The family says they believe the mistreatment Humphrey endured was racially motivated and they are calling for a federal hate crime investigation. The Plano Police Department has opened an investigation.
Smith explained during a March 5 news conference, which was streamed on Facebook by the Next Generation Action Network, that she contacted officials within the Plano Independent School District multiple times. But she says nothing was ever done to stop the bullying.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Humphrey’s Mother Says She Believes the Other Students Planned to Torture Her Son When He Was Invited to the Sleepover
Smith says she believes her son was set up when he was invited to a sleepover party in mid-February. During the March 5 news conference, Smith explained that the other student had been spending time with her son, one-on-one, for a few weeks leading up to the birthday party. “It was premeditated and obvious that SeMarion was only invited for their pure entertainment,” Smith claimed.
Family attorney Kim Cole described the other student who invited Humphrey to the party as a “very popular white player” on the football team. In a statement shared on Facebook, Cole echoed the sentiment that the friendship may have been a ruse.
As WFAA-TV reported, Smith asked about who else would be at the party before allowing Humphrey to go. No one told her that other football players, who she said had bullied Humphrey in the past, planned to show up. In addition to being beaten, Smith said the other teens forced Humphrey to drink urine. She explained during the news conference that Humphrey was initially tricked into taking a sip. “They woke him up out of his sleep and said, ‘You stopped breathing. You gotta drink this,'” Smith explained. “How horrible must you be? This is not a prank. This is beyond bullying. You are evil. They are evil.”
Cole says the students filmed the bullying and uploaded the evidence to social media. “They laughed and filmed themselves torturing SeMarion and posted the videos on social media to further humiliate him,” Cole wrote in her Facebook statement. She further told The Dallas Morning News that she believes the students were proud of what they had done. “In my opinion, not only did they torture this kid, but they filmed it and were proud of it and shared it on multiple social media sites making fun of him.”
2. Smith Shared the Video on Her Own Facebook Page After She Said School Officials Refused to Take Action
Smith explained that after the videos from the sleepover were brought to her attention, she immediately contacted the Plano Independent School District, starting with the superintendent’s office. But she said administrators refused to take any action because the bullying had taken place off school grounds.
Smith expressed disbelief about the reaction from the school. She told reporters, “The videos had been shared with pretty much the entire school. The school was laughing at him. Why is that not a school issue? We’re passing around the videos during school hours. How is that not a school issue? The boys are on the football team. How is that not a school issue? I didn’t understand.”
The conversations with school officials happened on March 2. Smith said she also called attorneys and reporters that day, but that no one seemed willing to do anything to help her son. That’s when Smith decided to share the urine video on her own Facebook page and publicly call out the school district. You can see the post here.
Smith explained during the news conference that the video was difficult for her to watch. But she said she realized, “People need to see this. If they [the students] can share it around, we’re gonna take it and I want everyone to see what they thought was funny. If you listen to the videos with sound, they are laughing. All of them. Laughing. They threaten him not to tell.” Smith then turned to her son and told him, “I am so proud of you” for telling her what had happened.
“This has got to stop,” Smith added. “This is going to end with him. We never should be here.”
3. Humphrey Was Told ‘Boys Will be Boys’ When He Told His Football Coaches About Being Bullied, His Mother Said
Humphrey suffered repeated bullying at Haggard Middle School, according to his mother. Smith detailed the abuse she said her son endured in a lengthy Facebook post on March 3. She claimed much of the bullying came from Humphrey’s teammates on the football team.
Smith wrote that other players had attacked Humphrey with a belt in the locker room and hit him “in the private area.” Humphrey tried to talk to his coaches about the behavior. But according to Smith, the coaches refused to intervene and told Humphrey that “boys will be boys.” She claimed the mistreatment extended to a coach, writing, “Imagine your inhaler being held from you by your coach when you felt as if you couldn’t breathe.” Humphrey eventually quit the team.
Smith said her son was called racial slurs on a regular basis, in addition to a homophobic slur. She explained Humphrey felt scared to go to school and that classmates urged him to commit suicide.
Smith’s account was reshared on a Change.org petition, launched by Smith’s daughter, calling for the Plano Independent School District to take action to curb the bullying. As of March 6, the petition had generated more than 107,000 signatures.
4. The Plano Police Department Has Opened an Investigation
Active investigation information pic.twitter.com/U9WI25yAMN
— Plano Police (Texas) (@PlanoPoliceDept) March 5, 2021
Smith’s Facebook post was successful in grabbing the attention of not just school administrators, but the local police department. The Plano PD announced on March 4 that it was launching an investigation after reviewing a report taken by a school resource officer. A Juvenile Detective was put in charge of the case, according to an official statement. The department explained “the Detective and School Resource Officer will continue to work with Plano ISD officials to conduct a full and thorough investigation in an effort to identify any criminal offenses that might have occurred during and prior to this incident.”
According to KTVT-TV, officials at Plano ISD have not commented about why the school did not take action sooner to address the bullying claims leveled by Smith. The school district released a prepared statement to the outlet on March 5:
Due to legal restrictions regarding the confidentiality of student information, Plano ISD is unable to release specific student information, but it can confirm appropriate measures were promptly taken to protect the victim and to investigate the allegations. Plano ISD does not condone bullying, harassment, and/or threats against any student. It is the District’s hope and expectation that all parties work collaboratively to create a climate of mutual respect even in the midst of disagreement.
But the family’s attorney disagrees and says Plano ISD did not take relevant action. During the March 5 news conference, Cole claimed the school had received complaints from multiple parents about bullying and assault taking place but that action was never taken.
5. Smith Plans to Enroll Humphrey in a Private School
Smith plans to remove her son from Haggard Middle School and enroll him in a private school, according to the family’s attorney. Cole started a GoFundMe campaign on Smith’s behalf to raise money for tuition. Cole added that Humphrey would also need therapy and that donations would help to pay for that as well. As of March 6, the online campaign had raised more than $33,000.
Plano community members have also come out in-person to support Humphrey. WFAA-TV reporter Jobin Panicker shared images of protesters who marched for Humphrey on March 5. Panicker said about 300 people showed up to demonstrate.
Close to 300 people here. pic.twitter.com/wsykrzK3PT
— Jobin Panicker (@jobinpnews) March 6, 2021
Humphrey joined the crowd marching on his behalf. The Next Generation Action Network shared footage of Humphrey marching with a sign that read, “Justice for me.”
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