A 16-year-old student at the Bronx High School of Science has been arrested for allegedly threatening a Daily News reporter after the tabloid reported on the school's secret fight club.
The student, a junior, was charged with misdemeanor aggravated harassment after he turned himself in to the NYPD with his attorney present on Wednesday evening.
The Bronx Science students' feud with the News began after the paper published an exposé on the school's secret fight club by Ben Chapman, the tabloid's education reporter, in which he referred to the school as "nerd-friendly." Astoundingly, Bronx Science's young brawlers were more pissed off about being called nerds than they were about their secret fight club—and the Facebook group used to promote it, called Savage Season—being brought to light.
According to the News, the majority of the fights occurred just south of the school at Harris Field, and some even happened during school hours. Students allegedly uploaded videos of the fights to Savage Season.
Savage season = world star hip hop of Bronx science
— nickelbackin (@lucelawless) January 26, 2016
"It's a volunteer thing. You do it for publicity," a 17-year-old student who calls himself Jefe and sometimes participates in the fights told Chapman. "It gets you the laugh... It's not a big deal, it makes you cool."
After the News's first piece on the school was published on October 11th, one of Bronx Science's honors forensics teachers had her students write an "extended paragraph" on their opinion of the article. That same day, Chapman began receiving threatening Facebook messages from Bronx Science students.
"I think you should drop by for an interview at Bronx Science," the student who's been arrested allegedly wrote. "Be sure to bring a mouthguard, bulletproof vest, and great life insurance."
In addition to sending Chapman threatening messages, Bronx Science students called his phone, posted his address and photos of his home to the Savage Season group, and created a parody Twitter account called "Ben Crapman." (As a reporter, this is how you know you've made the big time.)
i write mean and false things about great high schools because i have a small wiener and i like to feel powerful
— Ben Crapman (@NYTBenCrapman) October 13, 2016
Other students launched a change.org petition demanding an apology for a headline that appeared in the News' print edition: "Put Up Your Dorks!"
"Ben Chapman has invaded our privacy and created a somewhat false and offensive article regarding us Bronx Science students," student Henry Guan wrote on the petition page. "Our privacy is our privacy and his is his own. In no way should he have ignorantly written that article or put offensive terminology (dorks, nerds, etc.) which was very disrespectful just for a quick buck."
The petition has 397 signatures to date.
Students also shared their opinions about the News debacle on an anonymous Facebook page called Bronx Science Confessions. The page, which students also use to gripe about bathroom cleanliness, express fear about their future, and talk about other Serious Teen Things, is now dominated by discussion of Chapman and the News.
According to the News, the student will go before a judge on December 9th. An NYPD spokesperson told Gothamist that he will be tried as an adult.