Three high school students in Putnam County, New York, have caused a lot of trouble for their school district after making deep fake videos of the middle school principal going on a racist rant against Black students — and threatening to shoot them.
Parents of other students at the school are now planning to sue the district over the handling of the videos.
In one of the videos, all of which were created using artificial intelligence, a deep fake version of George Fischer Middle School principal John Piscitella appears to go on a hateful tirade using the n-word, referring to black students as monkeys, and concluding with “I am bringing my machine gun to school.”
“I hope these n-ggas get shot because they just don’t learn,” the video states. “I am bringing my machine gun to school. I’m going to Ronnie McNutt this bitch and all those n-ggas.”
McNutt live-streamed his suicide in August 2020.
“I f-cking hate Black kids. Like these stupid f-cking n-gger monkey parents need to stop sending them here. Get them the f-ck out, all of them,” the AI-generated video says. “Like send them back to Africa. All they do is steal sh-t.”
Another one of the deep fakes features Piscitella’s image saying that the “KKK legacy will return.”
The videos were initially posted to TikTok in early February but have since been removed. Copies were obtained by the Washington Post, which reported that “other videos show an animated version of George Fischer Middle School as the scene of a video game where a shooter runs into the building and begins firing at Black and Brown students.”
The deep fakes were reported to the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office shortly after appearing online, but the investigation was quickly closed after the office determined that the students had not committed any crimes by making the videos.
The Sheriff’s Office also determined that there was never a danger to other students.
While the issue was being investigated, the school district never informed parents about what was happening.
Two days after the case was closed, the school released a statement condemning the videos for “blatant racism, hatred, and disregard for humanity.” The district also held a pair of meetings to discuss the issue.
The school district told parents that disciplinary action was taken against the students but did not elaborate further.
A parent in the district, Abigail Santana, spoke to the Post and complained about how the videos were handled.
“Those meetings felt like a bunch of kumbaya and trying to brush up what happened without addressing the giant elephant in the room: How do we know are children are safe, and how do we know this won’t happen again?” Santana said.
Santana claimed that the existence of the videos had taken a toll on her ten-year-old son. She told the newspaper that he used to be excited to go every day, but now he is texting her saying things like “I don’t want to go to school. I’m scared and no one understands. I just want to go home. I feel nervous and anxious. Please, could someone pick me up?”
Some parents are now planning to sue the school district for not informing them of the potential threat.
“The whole school system did not give proper notice to the parents, in fact they gave no notice to the parents that there was a terrorist threat to the school,” Arthur Schwartz, an attorney who is representing the parents, told VICE News.
“They didn’t act properly, like most schools would do,” Schwartz said. “When a threat is made like that, the first thing that they should be doing is closing the school, informing all the parents about the nature of the threat, adding extra security, and making sure that law enforcement has addressed the threat.”