COLUMBUS, Ind. (WTHR) - The hateful fallout of the presidential election has come to Columbus, Indiana - home of Vice President-elect and governor Mike Pence.
Rev. Felipe Martinez, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, was angry when he heard his two sons were bullied and harassed.
"It was traumatic, it was troubling; it was the language of intimidation," he said.
Columbus school officials are investigating at least half a dozen incidents where Hispanic students were harassed and taunted, by some accounts by groups of classmates telling them to "go back home" and "Go build that wall."
"It is not okay to be driven by hate. It is not okay to intimidate,” Martinez said.
"This is the issue we are facing right now, and it needs to be dealt with right now," said Larry Perkinson, a spokesperson for Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation.
School administrators are making building-wide announcements, talking individually to students, calling parents and asking lots of questions, according to school administrators.
“Who said it? Who was affected? How do you feel? Do you feel safe?” Perkinson explained. “They expect civility. They expect people to be respectful with each other.”
The incidents caught schools and parents by surprise. Columbus is headquarters to Cummins International. Numerous foreign-owned business are located there. People from around the world come to work and live in the city.
Martinez praised school officials for their response.
"The principal acted quickly and appropriately," he said.
Martinez is a U.S. citizen. So are his children.
"The fact that it has not continued in any way gives me a sense of hope that we are learning through this," he said. Before he could continue with our interview, the driver of a passing car interrupted, shouting, "Make America great again! Make America great again!"
Martinez paused. "That’s telling isn’t it?"
At the same time, school administrators are working to prevent any more harassment or intimidation, but they are struggling to ease the fears of Hispanic children and teenagers.
"I don’t think I can remember as many days when we talked about as many people crying," Perkinson explained. "There were students who would say, 'I don’t know where I am going to live next year. My family may have to leave the country'."