Iowa students make Nazi salute in anti-LGBTQ 'Hitler Gang' TikTok video as they target trans Jewish classmate
GRINNELL, IOWA: The Grinnell Police Department is currently investigating an anti-Semitic, anti-LGBTQ video titled 'Hitler Gang' that was allegedly sent to a Jewish classmate and posted on different social media platforms. The Nazi-themed video was created on TikTok and captioned 'The Hitler Gang'.
According to a department news release, students from Grinnell-Newburg Middle School in Iowa filmed themselves 'goose-stepping' around the school corridors while reportedly doing Nazi-style salutes. While it is known that the video was shot by students from Grinnell-Newburg Middle School, authorities don't know if it was filmed inside the school or elsewhere.
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Target was a Jewish student
Elliot Zaret reportedly said that his 14-year-old child Ori, who is a student at the school, had been sent the video by classmates last week. According to a report in the Des Moines Register, Ori Zaret was among the students who received the clip and might have been targeted because of his Jewish faith and transgender identity. Ori is Jewish and "identifies under the umbrella of trans/nonbinary," their father said.
The video, captioned "Hitler gang," is 10 seconds long and was shared by the father to the publication. It shows two White male students "walking through a school hallway with their arms extended in an apparent Nazi salute. Hashtags attached to the video express hatred toward Jewish people and gay people, including one that said ‘kill all’ before an anti-LGBTQ slur".
“That’s why it seems so much more specifically targeted towards Ori,” Zaret said. "There aren’t that many Jews in Grinnell to begin with, let alone LGBTQ Jews."
Matter under investigation
According to the latest reports, the video has since been deleted from TikTok. Grinnell Police Department said in a statement that they are currently investigating to determine if laws have been violated. "The Grinnell Police Department is investigating this incident vigorously and we are committed to ensuring our students are safe and secure while attending school and in their community," the statement read.
The students who created the video have been disciplined, according to Grinnell-Newbury Community Schools superintendent Janet Stutz. While Stutz did not specify how this was done, they cited the school’s anti-bullying policy, which can include suspension or expulsion for harassment.
A past rehashed
Zaret, who had reportedly just moved his family to Grinnell in January, has said that Ori is now "scared to go to school". Recalling his grandparents' history, he said their "older brothers and sisters were slaughtered in the pogrom in Russia".
But the father says that his family has received an "outpouring of support" after the incident. "My hope is that this is a spotlight on (hate) and that people can’t pretend and wish it away anymore," he said.
"These kids need to know this is not what our community finds acceptable," Ori’s mum Zoe Zaret said. "This is not what our country finds acceptable."