Portland police are investigating an alleged hate crime after four black ninth-graders at Casco Bay High School reported that an older white teenager made racist remarks to them and brandished a knife Friday.

The incident happened on Allen Avenue in front of the high school around 2:45 p.m. as the four students waited for a city bus, Assistant Chief Vernon Malloch said. The ninth-graders said that three other teenagers were walking toward them when one of them, a white male, made a “derogatory and racist statement” to them. After a verbal confrontation between the students, the teen who reportedly made the racist remarks assaulted two of the ninth-graders and brandished a knife, Malloch said. Nobody was hurt and the teen ran from the scene, down Abbott Street.

Police were trying Friday night to identify and locate the teen with the knife. Malloch said witnesses described him as being about 17 with thin, patchy facial hair and wearing a hat with the name of the band Insane Clown Posse on it. The hat was black with red trim. He also had a large camouflage backpack, Malloch said.

Malloch asked that anyone who witnessed the incident or has information about the teen to call 874-8575. Malloch did not want to say what the teen said to the four ninth-graders, for fear it might hamper the investigation.

Malloch said the police and the Portland School Department are working together to identify a suspect.

“Violent incidents like this that are motivated by hatred and racial bias are disturbing,” Malloch wrote in a news release on the incident. “We are thankful no one was seriously injured and that we live in a community that does not tolerate this behavior.”

Derek Pierce, the principal of the 400-student school, said no other incidents like the one Friday have been reported. He said the information about the incident was sent out to “everyone in our community” to make them aware of it and to potentially help find the teen.

“I’m very proud of the way our students responded to this pretty despicable behavior,” Pierce said.

 


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