A week ago Joseph Washington, a student at Matanzas High School, was called into the dean’s office over a dress cove violation. He was wearing a shirt “inappropriate for school,” according to his arrest report. When an administrator addressed the situation with him, Washington allegedly told him to “suck my dick.”
That would be among the gentlest of Washington’s language in what followed–a long song he wrote and posted on SoundCloud as a succession of obscenities, racism, sexual put-downs, misogynism, and explicit threats to kill not only the administrator, who is apparently named in the song, but his wife.
The rap, set to a simple metronomic theme, accompanies lyrics of extremely violent and seething imagery that recall a pair of Flagler Palm Coast High School student’s written, racist threats against a teacher, those exchanged during class in December 2018 through an instant-messaging application. One of the students left the country. The other, charged with a second-degree felony, was a minor, and was sentenced to probation. Those threats had upended the teacher’s and her family’s life and resulted in an extended leave, though the teacher forgave the girl at trial.
In the case involving Washington, the administrator–a 31-year-old dean at Matanzas–suspended Washington for his sexual insult, which subsequently led Washington to write the song and post it to SoundCloud. The song refers obscenely to Matanzas High School and links the subsequent threats to the dean’s disciplinary action, one lyric reading, “crackers kick me out of school cause I wasn’t in dress code.” The rest of the song is a succession of vile lyrics, including: “You should be afraid of me cause I’ll come and take your life / Smoke ya with this Uzi like…” (the verse ends in an expletive vaporizing over a simile about a crack pipe). The singer calls himself “the grim reaper,” declares himself unafraid to use a gun and goes on from there with plenty of repetition, for six minutes. The song was still on SoundCloud as of today.
An official had been given a copy of the song by a teacher, who’d been alerted by a student. When a dean passed it to the school resource deputy, the deputy determined that it was actionable, since it included direct threats naming an individual. The official identified the voice as allegedly that of Washington. The official has known Washington since he was in third grade, and had been his case manager. Once the dean–the alleged victim–was informed, he opted to pursue charges against Washington.
According to his arrest report, Washington knew law enforcement was coming for him. He conceded that he’d written and posted the song he calls “Racial Profiling,” saying he created it with his cell phone and posted it to Instagram and SoundCloud. He says he makes music about his emotions and life experiences. He sought advice from others about posting it. No one told him not to, he told deputies, “but he admitted that he knew the consequences of his actions could be that he was arrested and charged with a criminal offense,” his arrest report states. He “understood that there is heightened unease because of the numerous school shootings and understood why others would find the song disturbing.” He characterized the lyrics as “correct” but “all fantasy,” and that he would not kill the alleged victim. He posted the song, he said, because he “wanted other students to know what he has been going through and he knew the song would get to” the 31-year-old administrator.
Washington told deputies of an alleged altercation he’d had with the alleged victim three years ago, when Washington was a freshman. Ever since, he’s felt targeted.
Being 18, Washington faces a second-degree felony charge of sending written threats to kill. He was booked at the county jail and released on his own recognizance, with electronic monitoring. He’s been ordered to have no contact with the alleged victim or his family under a pre-trial supervision order. The prosecutor on the case is Jason Lewis, the same assistant state attorney who prosecuted the case of the 16-year-old girl at FPC.
“To anyone that still thinks saying ‘I was just kidding around or it’s a fantasy’ is going to get them out of being arrested when they threaten someone’s life – let this be a wake-up call,” Sheriff Rick Staly said in a release. “We have a zero tolerance policy and we do not take threats like these lightly, especially when it comes to our schools. If you make threatening statements online, in writing and or even if veiled in songs, you will be arrested.”
Compared to 2018, when similar charges were imposed on numerous students, the last two school years have been relatively calm in Flagler County, but not entirely immune from similar incidents.