It is a photo that has sparked outrage across the country, six Senior girls from Desert Vista High School posed for a picture while spelling out a racial slur. Those girls received some harsh criticism, punishment from the school, and even death threats online. One of the girls in the picture came forward to speak about the incident.
She joined dozens of people, mostly African American who were rallying outside of the school. While in the middle of the crowd, she publicly apologized.
Rachel Steigerwald was in the photo that sparked the controversy, she was wearing the letter R. With her parents at her side, she apologized.
"I have come here to say that I know people have been offended by what I did; I am incredibly sorry. I have love for everyone in my heart. I am not a racist, and I am asking everyone for forgiveness to me," said Rachel Steigerwald.
She joined dozens of activists and a few Desert Vista parents and students for a rally outside the campus, she even hugged one African-American student.
"I do forgive her for it, but I am still a little hurt you did it. I just want it to stop; we don't need to keep going around school worrying about what somebody else is going to say," said Toni Davis.
The picture on social media has sparked outrage, and calls for serious punishment.
"This sickens me, this disgusts me, there is no room in this community that I have worked hard on. They need to be expelled; kids have gotten expelled for so much less, for being tardy, or wearing the wrong clothes," said Valerie Sanders.
"As young kids they are teenagers, they weren't thinking, it is just plain and simple. They weren't thinking about the moment. They weren't thinking about how it would affect their family, their school, as well as their community," said Les Rayford.
Les has a son who attends the school; he was appalled by the photo. He said he knows a few of the girls in the photo and they've been to his home.
"I don't think there is any hatred; I don't believe that there is a racist bone in a couple of their bodies. I don't know all of them, but I do know the character of a couple of them, and I just don't agree with trying to tear them down," said Rayford.
"I think this is an opportunity for our community to come together to teach them, and teach the other kids why that word should not be used," he said.
Regarding punishment for the students, the district says they are taking this very seriously. There is a process to determine the punishment, and they asked the community to trust in the process.