Bishop Hendricken principal retires over racially charged, ‘inflammatory’ video

Photo Credit: Bishop Hendricken High School

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) – The longtime principal of Bishop Hendricken High School has retired after administrators from the private Catholic school were made aware of a short video clip that included racial and anti-Semitic slurs.

The video – which was apparently recorded in the office of the principal, Jay Brennan – was emailed to the Target 12 Investigators as well as the head of the local NAACP by an anonymous source.

The brief video shows Brennan smiling as he made a 13-word statement.

“That way, I could take care of the [slur for African-Americans] and the [slur for Jewish people],” Brennan said.

The video clip was apparently edited, with no content before or after that sentence.

Target 12 forwarded the clip to Bishop Hendricken President John Jackson.

In a written statement, Jackson wrote, “We recently were made aware of a six-second video-clip from the past with a statement made by Mr. Jay Brennan which includes inflammatory language. The video clip, which is under review, has no context and Mr. Brennan was being secretly recorded, but clearly the language is inappropriate. We will not tolerate inflammatory language in any context.”

Jackson added that Brennan “has provided unfailing support for the ideals and mission of our school” and “has continually modeled the goal of promoting diversity within the school and during his tenure.”

Jim Vincent, president of the Providence branch of the NAACP, called the language in the video “unacceptable.”

“I just don’t think a person of that authority should be talking like that. No matter where. No matter when,” Vincent said. “It hurts. It’s painful. It conjures up a past that was horrific for people both in the black and the Jewish community.”

Target 12 reached out to Brennan via email requesting a comment. He had not responded as of late afternoon Wednesday.

Diocese of Providence Bishop Thomas J. Tobin said he was “stunned, and profoundly sorry” to learn about Brennan’s comments, adding the incident seemed “out of character for a good man.”

“Nonetheless, the administration of the school has taken the incident very seriously and has responded quickly and appropriately,” Bishop Tobin said. “Racism is a sin, a grave sin, and expressions of racism will simply not be tolerated by any employee of the Diocese of Providence, its agencies or institutions.”

Target 12 Investigator Walt Buteau can be reached at wbuteau@wpri.com and follow him on Twitter @wbuteau