The mother of a black Naperville high school student whose photo appeared in a racist Craigslist ad advertising a "slave for sale" said she never imagined her son would go through something like that.
"You don't prepare your kids for this," an emotional Tamera Wallace said.
Wallace's 14-year-old son was the target of the "racially insensitive" post that circulated this month, culminating in hate crime charges against another Naperville Central High School student this week.
The student who made the ad used to be a close friend of Wallace's son, she said.
"I was hurt," she said. "I was devastated. They grew up and played football together."
The student, whose name was not released because he is a juvenile, was charged with two counts of felony hate crime and one count of misdemeanor disorderly conduct Wednesday, authorities said.
“The allegations against the juvenile in this case are beyond disturbing,” DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert B. Berlin said in a statement. “Hate crimes have no place in our society and will not be tolerated in DuPage County. Anyone, regardless of age, accused of such disgraceful actions will be charged accordingly."
The ad featured a photo of Wallace's son with the headline "slave for sale" and a caption that included racial slurs.
"It was thick n-word for the low - that is what the caption said," Wallace said.
The incident wasn't the first time Wallace's son had a racist encounter with the student, whose friendship she alleges unexpectedly turned to bullying.
"When my son would have conversations with others, he would say, 'Shut up slave,'" she said. "He did it many times and it was confirmed by other students."
School officials told NBC 5 Monday that students at the school were disciplined after the “racially insensitive electronic post” surfaced.
Naperville District 203 said the high school’s administration became aware of the post and “took swift and appropriate action steps to address this situation and the students involved.”
Parents said a note was sent home about the incident Friday.
“This was a despicable and extremely offensive post that is not at all reflective of the caring, welcoming community that our department serves and protects every day," Naperville Chief of Police Robert Marshall said. "Every single person deserves the right to feel safe and welcome in our community, and this department will continue to strive to make that a reality by thoroughly investigating any allegations of hate crimes and bringing those found responsible to justice.”
The school would not reveal how many students were disciplined due to the incident or what that discipline involved but said “as a district, we follow the principles of restorative practice to address and repair harm.”
“NCHS administrators have a plan in place when school resumes [Monday] to address this issue with the entire student population, as well as offering additional support for students who need it,” the district said in a statement, adding that it is “committed to providing a safe and welcoming environment for all students” and “racial discrimination and hateful acts are never acceptable.”
The student is set to appear in court next on Dec. 18.