High school principal responds to viral video of student saying ‘I can’t breathe’

News Channel 5 has been made aware of a video circulating on social media that shows a student lying on the ground saying, “I can’t breathe,” at Rosepine High.
Published: Oct. 16, 2022 at 3:26 PM CDT
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VERNON PARISH, La. (KALB/Gray News) - A video of a Louisiana high school student lying on the ground and saying “I can’t breathe,” has gone viral.

The video shows students from Rosepine High School in Vernon Parish appearing to re-enact the 2020 fatal arrest of George Floyd during their homecoming assembly Wednesday afternoon on campus.

The video seemed to have originated on Snapchat. In the video, two students, with one dressed as a police officer, are seen holding another student down while one of the students pins another down to the gymnasium floor with his hands behind his back. One student can be seen pretending to kneel down on the student’s neck. The words, “I can’t breathe,” can be heard multiple times in the video.

KALB contacted the Rosepine High School principal, Joey Bartz, about the video. He said he was shocked and heartbroken to see his students imitate the event, and that the main lesson to take from the incident is “change.”

“How do we get better moving forward without forgetting what we did in the past and the wrongs we did?” Bartz said. “I think that it’s one of those things where we’ve got to do a better job with making our kids socially and culturally aware of what’s going on in the world. Words can’t fix this, and we know that. The vow I have made to the students, since the event, is that we need to become better human beings moving forward. On that road, we need to be on the correct path through our actions.”

On Thursday, Bartz posted the following message on Facebook about the video:

“We are aware of a video that was posted on social media yesterday showing a group of our students reenacting a very serious and heartbreaking event. The disheartening, unfortunate display was not part of anything that Rosepine High School had planned during its homecoming activities, but instead was enacted by a few students. In no way is this acceptable, nor does it keep with the heart and spirit of what we teach and preach daily.

The school is working with all parties involved, including their parents/guardians. We will work tirelessly to educate our students on better choices. After the punitive actions are taken, all we can do is hope and pray that we can learn from the mistakes made and become better human beings.

Again, we are deeply sorry for the pain that this has caused and we know words are never enough, so we will vow to strive to become better through our future actions.

With a broken heart,

J. Bartz.”

The students involved in the video were reportedly suspended from Rosepine High School, following violation of district policy and protocol.