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Prior Lake students rally with activists in response to racist video investigation

Nya Sigin, who was a target of the video, says her life has "completely turned around."

PRIOR LAKE, Minn — Prior Lake High School dismissed students early Thursday. As a line of cars exited the parking lot at around 12:30 p.m., another arrived for a rally in support of freshman Nya Sigin.

Sigin stood with her sister and friends on a hill overlooking the school, watching the crowd size grow.

"It's so crazy," the 14-year-old said. "Just where I was six months ago, my life is completely turned around and I could not be more grateful. It's amazing."

Sigin was the main target of a now viral video showing a fellow student using several racial slurs and encouraging suicide. KARE 11 is not airing the video. 

Last spring, Sigin attempted to take her own life. Now, she stands tall not only with her loved ones but with a community of support.

"It is the best feeling ever to know that she's happy," Sigin's big sister, Elizabeth Sigin, said. "Not only have we finally got the message out to our school but this is worldwide now. Everybody knows what we're going through. That this is a problem that needs to be fixed."

Adult activists from the community, Prior Lake alumni, parents, a few teachers, St. Louis Park students, and others showed up in support of the Sigins.

"This is what works," said Lavish Mack, who organized the rally. "You don't wait for justice."

One Prior Lake alumna on the mic shared that racism has "been going on forever" within the district.

"The salt that you put on, to stop ice, I had someone throw it at my eyes and call me the N word," she said. "I've had a teacher ask if I spoke a clicking language that's commonly used in Africa. I've had kids call me the N word when I walk by. I've had a lot of racist boys talk about how they were going to kill me and my family so I'm really glad that we're coming together and wanting change."

Several students shared their traumatic experiences with racism to show Sigin she's not alone.

"A bunch of us is out here to come support," one St. Louis park student said. "Recently we had a teacher at our school use the N word."

During the rally, superintendent Dr. Teri Staloch held a press conference at a separate location. She says due to the ongoing investigation, she can't yet share details, including any consequences for the students involved in the video.

"I understand the desire for consequences and what happened to the person and that will come out," Dr. Staloch said. "What I'm really concerned about and what I hope collectively everyone in this room is concerned about is the impact on our students and how we together continue to embrace and share and listen and elevate their voices so we hear what they need."

A GoFundMe account was set up for the Sigins and to raise money for a college fund. At last check, it reached over $102,000.

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