A video of an active shooting drill at a Pennsylvania school has received sharp criticism over the decision to dress an actor playing a would-be shooter in what appears to be a Middle Eastern-style headdress.
The simulation video, which was made in January and only intended for internal training purposes, shows an actor abruptly entering a classroom and firing a shot, followed by a loud scream and students ducking their heads. The school said that two actors were used during the filming.
In the first scene, it’s not clear if an actor is wearing a headdress — but a few minutes later, after police officers have caught up with him, there’s a clearer picture of him wearing a headdress with his hands up.
“Drop your hands. Drop your hands now,” a police official is heard yelling at the so-called shooter.
An actor playing a shooter is at another point in the video seen wearing a blond wig, while police are escorting him.
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“Even if it wasn’t meant for public doesn’t make it right,” another Twitter user said.
Alicia said this best. Your intent is unfortunately not always your impact, and how you respond matters greatly. The release does not imply that they are listening to the public, they are only defensive. Even if it wasn't meant for public doesn't make it right. https://t.co/yuCDR5yAUc
Since the video emerged online this week, a petition was created calling on the school district, the police department and the people involved in the training to apologize to students and members of the community.
“We are disappointed that Penn-Trafford School District would choose to conduct an active shooter drill where the shooter was portrayed as a man of Middle Eastern descent,” the Voice of Westmoreland petition stated.
The school district that planned the drill said in a release that it “strongly believes in diversity and inclusion” and that “students are empowered to be their authentic selves and value others.”
Rima Abdelkader is a senior reporter for Social Newsgathering at NBC News in New York.
Suzanne Ciechalski is a New York-based reporter for NBC News' Social Newsgathering team.