By Genoa Barrow | OBSERVER Senior Staff Writer
A month after the discovery of racial slurs aimed at the Black Vice Principal at West Campus High School, the Sacramento Police Department is asking for the community’s help in finding three individuals who may have been involved.
As previously reported by The OBSERVER, someone had marked up a wall near Dr. Elysse Versher’s on-campus parking spot in November, writing the n-word five different times. Dr. Versher believes the racist slurs and subsequent in-person and online threats stem from a suspension of a student over a dress code violation. The administrator suffered a series of stress-related seizures in the wake of the incidents.
The Greater Sacramento NAACP held a press conference outside the Stockton Boulevard-area school, demanding an end to racist behavior and those who allow it. Several community advocates also came out in support of Dr. Versher at a rally organized by Voice of the Youth founder Berry Accius. During the rally, a number of West Campus students shared their experiences with racism there. Leaders spoke of similar incidents throughout the Sacramento City Unified School District.
“This does not only affect Dr. V, but it affects all people, all students,” Accius said.
The SacPD says it began treating the incident as a hate crime.
“Detectives from the department’s bias crimes task force have been assigned to the case and have been following up on the incident,” reads a statement released this week.
“During the investigation detectives have reviewed several hours of surveillance footage and have located three subjects that they are looking to identify and interview regarding this incident. Detectives are seeking the community’s assistance with identifying the subjects,” it continues.
The grainy photos the SacPD released appear to be of three individuals in a parking lot. Local NAACP President Betty Williams previously told THE OBSERVER that school officials told the organization that there were no surveillance cameras aimed at the area near the soccer field where the racist graffiti was written. She wasn’t buying it.
“They say there’s no cameras there to prove that the students did this,” Williams said. “This sounds to me like when I’m working with the jail when they beat up inmates and it’s under the staircase, and they say there’s no proof.”
Dr. Versher said calling what happened, “graffiti” minimizes the severity of the incident. Williams shared some of what Dr. Versher went through in the days surrounding it.
“This is not the first time that they did this, the fact that they just not only put it on the parking lot, that they put it in social media, they sent it to letters to her husband, the fact that they put her address publicly on social media, and put it to the point where she is so afraid to even be at home, that she personally had to be escorted by law enforcement to a secret place for her and her family to be at. No one should live like this,” Williams said.
Anyone with information regarding this incident is encouraged to contact the SacPD dispatch center at (916) 808-5471 or Sacramento Valley Crime Stoppers at (916) 443-HELP (4357). Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward up to $1,000. Anonymous tips can also be submitted using the free “P3 Tips” smartphone app.