Students across Saint Louis walk out for justice

Students+across+Saint+Louis+walk+out+for+justice

Brooklyn Bass, Staff Writer

Throughout the week of Dec. 1, students from several high schools of the St. Louis metropolitan region have been protesting the grand jury’s decision to not indict Officer Darren Wilson—Michael Brown’s killer. According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, more than 250 students from Northwest Law Academy, Clyde C. Career Academy, Vashon High School, Gateway STEM, and the private, Catholic Cardinal Ritter High School walked out of their classes and marched together.

The St. Louis Public Schools were not the only campuses with walkouts occurring. In fact, many students from the Ferguson-Florissant region walked out of classes as well. Even at U. City, students left class to express their disapproval of the grand jury’s decision.

“I honestly walked out because I believed that it was right,” said junior Imani Gleason. “Not because my peers thought it was right, but because I did. The protest was all about unity, just about us coming together realizing these deaths couldn’t just be swept under the rug anymore. It was also about proving to our administrators that we do understand that we are capable of coming together without there being a fight or altercation.”

Although students thought that their choice to leave class was justifiable, word from school administration implied that protests like walking out of class and sit-ins at lunch were unjustified. Such protests were thought to be not peaceful and distracting from the main focus of school.

“You can’t disrupt the order of school,” Mr. Maclin, principal, said. “This is a learning environment. Learning comes first. There’s nothing wrong with a peaceful demonstration, but it can’t disrupt.”

For that reason, members of Student Council and class officers tasked themselves with organizing a peaceful protest that could unify the school in a positive manner. Inspired by the “die-in” staged at Clayton High School, Student Council and class officers organized a similar protest. Students would lie on the floor posed as if they were dead for four and half minutes, just as Brown’s dead body laid out on the street for four and a half hours. It was planned to occur during seminar travel time. However, the Student Council members and class officers that opted to participate in the protest risked probation, according to junior Jillian Pritchard.

The carefully planned protest went as intended on Dec. 5. Students from all grade levels lay out in the halls.

“I believe that we were expecting the worst, but hoping for the best,” said junior class president Briana Hudson. “I think that overall everyone did a good job. Everyone eventually quieted down and it went smoothly.“

After lying down for several minutes, Maclin proceeded to speak to the students, promising them more opportunities to speak out.

“The school is organizing more activities to let students have a voice—something with Wash U., and attending a racial summit with students from other high schools,” said Maclin.

Among others, Maclin thought that the protest went very well. However, some students like junior Tevin Williams found that the demonstration ultimately proved to be ineffective.

“I felt it was peaceful, but I don’t feel anyone got anything out of it,” said Williams. “It would have been better if we went outside.”

Despite some of the disappointment that students may have had about the protest, any other demonstrations are now strongly discouraged by administration.

“Since there are things planned, there should be no other disruptions,” said Maclin. “If there are more protests, today or any day in the future, there will be consequences.”