Marist students protest after video shows teens kneeling during Spanish song at Homecoming dance

There was outrage in Chicago and the south suburbs after students at Marist High School were caught on video kneeling during a Spanish-language song at their Homecoming dance over the weekend.

Some were calling the act a racist gesture.

However, more details surfaced Tuesday that revealed more about the incident.

In a statement, the school said in part: "Students showed displeasure of the songs (being played at Homecoming) by kneeling, crouching down, or sitting at multiple times throughout the dance."

School officials confirmed the kneeling was not isolated to that specific Spanish-language song heard on the viral video, and students who were kneeling or sitting danced to other Spanish-language songs throughout the night.

DJ Brian Stepanek says it was nearly impossible to please the 800 kids at the dance.

"There were other times at this dance that the students were protesting the music being played," he said. "It wasn't related to any music genre. It was just if they didn't like the song, they would sit down."

However, the student who recorded the video also said she heard a racist comment when the kneeling occurred.

On Tuesday, a handful of students gathered on the school’s lawn in Mount Greenwood to protest what happened.

In addition, the Marist principal reportedly met with Hispanic students to discuss the incident.

The school released the following statement that fully explains what happened on Oct. 9.

"As communicated to our school community yesterday, Marist High School conducted an investigation related to a reported incident at the October 9 Homecoming dance. We did so to ensure the investigation was based on facts and not a rush to judgment. We share our preliminary findings of the facts below.

At the outset, we acknowledge and apologize for the hurt this incident has caused our students, staff, alumni, and the many others who have expressed their feelings related to the video posted on social media.

Based on the facts presented to us, we realize we are dealing with two situations: the incident at the dance and the experience a number of our students have reported at our school. We will speak to both, but first address the incident at the dance.

We take very seriously the reports made by our students, some of which have been reported in social media and in the media. In order to address these reports, we immediately reviewed the video and met with staff, some of whom were chaperones, parents, and students involved in taking and posting the video, as well as students in the video.

  • During the evening at the homecoming dance, students showed displeasure of the songs by kneeling, crouching down, or sitting at multiple times throughout the dance.
  • Kneeling was not isolated to the song, Payaso de Rodeo, as shown in the video.
  • Marist High School contacted the DJ company MG Sound to obtain a full playlist from the dance.
  • MG Sound has informed us that it is common for students to gesture in the manner that was displayed on Saturday night as a way of requesting that the DJs change the song being played. The playlist shows there were 3-4 Spanish-language songs.
  • The DJ, staff, and students have reported that students seen in the video kneeling to one song also were seen dancing during other Spanish-language songs.
  • The chaperones indicated they saw students kneel down on several occasions throughout the evening and the DJ would respond by cutting off one song and playing another song.

Although these are the facts, we recognize there are still students at Marist who viewed this video or who were at the Homecoming dance that were hurt by these actions. Marist is a family, and when one of us hurts, we all hurt. The fact that there were students who left the homecoming dance hurt by what they witnessed shows us that there is work to do."