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No crimes were committed by those in viral blackface video, Cedar City police conclude

SHARE No crimes were committed by those in viral blackface video, Cedar City police conclude
A Cedar City police vehicle is pictured in Cedar City on April 7, 2021.

A Cedar City police vehicle is pictured in Cedar City on April 7, 2021.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

The Iron County School District has concluded its investigation into a viral social media video that showed three individuals in blackface and "definitively determined" Tuesday that the four males prominently featured in the video are not students in a public education institution and therefore the district has no recourse.

Cedar City police also announced Tuesday that their investigation, reviewed by the city and the county attorney's offices, concluded that no crimes had been committed.

"Both offices agreed with the investigative team that there is no evidence of any crime, and therefore, nothing to prosecute," police said in a statement, adding that the police department "condemns the insensitive and inappropriate acts of those involved."

The video was taken on Halloween at the Cedar City Walmart and depicted what appears to be three teens wearing blackface and dressed as inmates, accompanied by at least one white person wearing a police costume.

The school district said the individuals in the video were also not part of any school function and the event occurred outside of any school hours, according to a statement issued Tuesday.

"Iron County School District respects the First Amendment and supports an individual's right to free speech. However, it also strongly denounces all forms of discrimination and racism, whether those actions are on campus or off campus, in person or online," the school district said.

Both high schools in Cedar City and similarly named Cedar Valley High School in Eagle Mountain experienced "significant disruption" and students — including minority populations — were "adversely affected" by the video, the statement said.

The district said it and each Iron County school is providing access to support and resources for any students struggling in the aftermath of the incident.

Although it was determined that the four males in the video are not Iron County students, "the degree of participation of other individuals observed in the video who were identified as Iron County students was taken into consideration," the statement says.

The school district said appropriate action, if warranted, was taken for those individuals, but it did not elaborate, citing federal student privacy laws.

The school district does not tolerate any action, practice, process or approach that "promotes a belief that different races possess distinct characteristics, abilities, or qualities, especially so as to distinguish them as inferior or superior to one another leading to prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism," the statement says.

The video was initially uploaded to a private TikTok account before being widely distributed on various social media platforms. It shows three young people with striped inmate costumes wearing blackface, who when approached by a woman filming, laugh off her concerns.

"Do you guys understand the consequences of what you've just done?" a woman asks. "You guys are never going to get into a college, you guys are not going to get any scholarships, because this is a hate crime."

"We all dropped out of high school, it's OK," responds one of the teens, not wearing a costume, to the tune of laughter from the teens wearing blackface.

Iron County School District administrators are looking at working with Cedar City and Southern Utah University officials in a joint effort to further enhance efforts to promote sensitivity and anti-discrimination.

"We hope that this can be a learning experience for those involved, as well as others. It's critical that we work together as a community to prevent these types of things from happening in the future," the statement said.