Univ. of Houston volleyball players appear in video laughing about a 1935 lynching, report says 

According to the campus newspaper, the viral video appeared to have been filmed by a freshman and shared on Snapchat.

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At least two University of Houston volleyball players are in hot water after sharing a video of themselves on social media laughing and mocking an infamous 1935 lynching of two Black teenagers. 

According to the university newspaper, The Daily Cougar, the video appeared to have been filmed by Ryleigh Whitekettle, a freshman volleyball player, and shared on Snapchat. In it are volleyball players Isabel Theut and Abbie Jackson. The caption reads, “This is the hanging tree where we used to hang people.” The tree is in Columbus, Texas, which is Theut’s hometown. 

At least two University of Houston volleyball players are in hot water after sharing a video of themselves on social media mocking a lynching of Black teens. (Photo: uh.edu)

Within a day of being posted, the clip had been viewed more than 14,000 times and was shared on TikTok by a football player at the University of Miami, where it was viewed more than 54,000 times before being deleted. 

Other members of University if Houston’s athletic community condemned the video, commenting about it on Twitter. “Pretty disingenuous by these two,” tweeted UH football quarterback Ike Ogbogu, who also shared a photo that appears to show several of the volleyball players at a protest for Black lives. 

According to the Equal Justice Initiative, the lynching in Columbus, Texas, occurred on Nov. 12, 1935, when a mob of at least 700 white men, women, and children lynched 15-year-old Ernest Collins and 16-year-old Benny Mitchell. The teenagers had been accused of murdering a white woman whose body was found near a creek where they had been seen picking pecans. The two were arrested and reportedly confessed to the crime, “but without fair investigation or trial, their supposed confessions serve as more reliable evidence of fear than guilt,” the EJI website claims. 

As they were being transported to a courthouse, Collins and Mitchell were stopped by a mob, and the sheriff handed the boys over. They were later lynched by the cheering mob. 

Since the video has gone viral, Whitekettle, Theut and Jackson have deleted their Twitter accounts, and the three young women have not commented. Campus officials, however, have responded.

“The University is aware of the video, which does not represent our values and is inconsistent with our efforts to foster a diverse, inclusive and respectful environment,” a UH spokesperson told The Houston Chronicle. “As the second most diverse public research institution in the country, we encourage constructive and respectful dialogue, cultural awareness and a spirit of unity. We understand the concerns this has caused. UH follows internal policies as well as all applicable local, state and federal laws when assessing any situation.”

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