A small town in Texas is seeing firsthand what happens when a couple of their own decide to dress up in Ku Klux Klan outfits for Halloween and tase one of their classmates.
The incident made headlines in November when two teen boys from Woodsboro, Texas—Rance Bolcik, 17, who is white, and Noel Garcia Jr.,17, who is Latino—dressed in Klan outfits and targeted one of their football teammates, who is Black. Also, a white unnamed 16-year-old Karen recorded a video of the attack on her cellphone.
According to Texas Monthly, the one-minute video shows the two teens wearing traditional Klan gear backing the Black teen through a field. He has a white friend with him, who attempts to intervene.
Karen can be heard egging on the incident with, “If you say their names, they’re gonna tase you.” She tells the teens to “Get closer,” and the gun can be heard crackling and firing. The Black teen continues to back away.
“Surround him,” the girl says. “Surround him!” She can be heard continuing to giggle. The Black teen yells at the boys and tells them to “Chill!” Then one of the hooded boys lunges at him, and rapid fire is heard.
The Black teen’s friend tries again to stop them but is ignored.
“Wait,” the girl tells one of the white-sheeted figures, “get on this side of him.” Orchestrating the attack, she directs the other teen to “Get on that side.” Then one of the figures zaps the Black teen.
“Ooh!” he calls out, recoiling, inspiring the girl to giggle even louder.
All the teens attend Woodsboro High School. Bolcik (whose grandfather was a top Refugio County law enforcement official), Garcia, and the unnamed victim played football together. In fact, after the attack, all three played on the Friday night game after Halloween.
A few days following the incident, a civil attorney from Corpus Christi, Matthew Manning, posted on his Facebook page that he’d been retained by the family of the Black teen to represent him. He called the event “Disgusting, traumatic and hateful.”
Woodsboro residents were outraged as they learned of what happened. And the responses to Manning’s Facebook post reverberated.
Manning and many of the town’s residents wanted the high school administration to respond, and although initially the school dismissed responsibility, saying that the event took place off of their campus, Manning pointed to the district’s code of conduct, which says students can be disciplined if the superintendent has “reasonable belief” the student committed the equivalent of a felony—even if it’s off campus.
On Dec. 16, the proverbial chickens came home to roost and Bolcik and Garcia were arrested and indicted on two third-degree felonies. Both are being held on a $10,000 bond.
They’re charged with “engaging in organized criminal activity” while committing assault on a juvenile, and tampering with evidence. (They burned their costumes.)
A hate crime “enhancement” was added to the felonies, according to the indictment, because the teens “intentionally selected” their victim “primarily because of bias or prejudice against African Americans.”
Both teens face sentences of two to 10 years in prison if convicted. (The girl who filmed the video is considered a juvenile under Texas law, and won’t be charged in the adult justice system.)
The day the teens were arrested, Woodsboro High School released the following statement:
“Regardless of the advancement of any criminal case against any Woodsboro ISD student, the District’s position remains unchanged: the alleged conduct was reprehensible. Woodsboro ISD remains committed to ensuring that activities like those alleged to have occurred on Halloween do not take place in our schools, and we are working both on our campuses and in our community to teach our students that racism and violence have no place in Woodsboro, Texas."
"I’m heartened in so far as this indictment is proof positive that at least the citizens of the grand jury in Refugio County saw the evidence, saw that the evidence was indisputable, saw that what my client said happen did in fact happen, and they are now going to bring to account at least two of those people who were involved in that crime," Manning told KRIS-TV, Corpus Christi.
Woodsboro sits in Refugio County, which is 50% Latino, 6% Black, and the rest white.
James Durst, 68, is Black and has been a resident all of his life. Durst tells Texas Monthly there were people in the town who downplayed the event, chalking it up to kids being kids, but he felt it was an act of “terrorism.”
Like most southern towns, Refugio and Woodsboro were segregated until 1965. It wasn’t until 2019 after the town made headlines again that the city council ended the tradition of playing “Dixie” after every touchdown during football games.
A Latino man born and raised in Refugio County told Texas Monthly it wasn’t all that surprising that one of the teens in the Klan costume was Latino.
“A lot of people don’t want to admit it,” he said. “but Mexicans are just as racist against Blacks as whites are. There are plenty of instances of Mexican girls dating Black guys and the parents saying, ‘You’re not bringing a Black guy home.’”
A woman by the name of Phyllis Moore told Texas Monthly that it may seem as if the punishment for the teens is severe as the Taser didn’t seriously injure the Black teen, but despite whether or not the hooded teens understood the severity, the problem of racism remains.
“It’s sad this had to happen,” Moore says. “But I think adults led them to believe this kind of behavior is okay. Parents as well as people at the schools, churches, and in law enforcement—they set the standards for the community. How many people drove by that night—why didn’t they make a call to police or stop the kids and talk to them? Marching them out of school to arrest them sends an extreme message, but that’s what it’s going to take to let kids know that this is not okay.”