No criminal charges will be filed against a Huntley High School student who circulated racist pamphlets in school this month, authorities said Monday.
The McHenry County State's Attorney's Office released a statement that the decision was made despite officials finding the pamphlet's content "disgraceful and purveying a message that is unacceptable in this community."
"We believe that the misled young person who distributed this pamphlet will live to regret his decision upon realizing the harm he has caused," the statement read. "After lengthy internal debate and deliberation and while we, like many in the community, are outraged at this student's conduct and contents of the pamphlet, we have concluded that the First Amendment prevents us from proving the student guilty of a criminal offense beyond a reasonable doubt."
In a detailed memorandum, the state's attorney's office explained its reasoning for not pursuing criminal charges of disorderly conduct or a hate crime against the student, who is a minor.
"The pamphlet makes pervasive use of the N-word, provides 'instructions' that if followed would constitute the very worst type of criminal acts proscribed in Illinois, and invokes many of the vilest stereotypes that have assailed the African-American community throughout the often shameful history of race relations in this country. The bottom of the pamphlet states, '[t]his manual is a joke and is for entertainment purposes only.' The pamphlet, as revolting as it is, appears to be meant as satire," according to the memo.
An official investigation determined the student handed out 10 to 15 copies of the pamphlet while at school before and between classes, and at lunch. The student did not give the pamphlet to any black students, and received copies of it from another student, officials said.
"Many of the students reported being upset by the pamphlet, some reporting that they had to leave class or alter routines to compose themselves. The pamphlet also disrupted classes. Not only did a number of students leave class, many teachers felt compelled to set aside lesson plans for the day to discuss the pamphlet and counsel students," according to the memo.
Huntley Community School District 158 officials have not disclosed what, if any, disciplinary action has been taken against the student.