• October 1, 2023

Students Walk Out Of High School In Protest Over ‘Black Lives Matter’ T-Shirt

Ten students walked out of class Monday morning at Buckeye Union High School, protesting after the school last week banned a sophomore girl from wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt.

“Stand up, fight back,” the students said as they left the school. Mariah Havard and nine others were greeted outside by representatives of several civil-rights organizations who spoke in support of the students’ action.

Havard decided to make a statement last week by wearing the T-shirt for the school’s picture day — school officials had told her she couldn’t wear the shirt again, and a vice principal made her change into a white shirt, she said.

“We’re not trying to start a race war. We’re trying to end one,” Buckeye student Genesis Santoyo, a friend of Havard, said. Santoyo has younger brothers, she said, and didn’t want them to have to experience “such injustice.” Santoyo said she asked Havard for the shirt and also wore it to school.

The issues started Aug. 19 when 15-year-old Havard said she was confronted about the shirt by another student who told her, “Black lives don’t matter,” and “That shirt is meaningless.” Havard was caught off guard by the comments, she said but responded with an explanation of what the shirt meant to her. According to Havard, the student reported their conversation to school officials, who then told Havard she would not be permitted to wear the shirt again. But she wore the shirt again on picture day, anyway, to make a point, she said. A vice principal gave her a white shirt to wear instead, Havard said.

Later that week, on Friday, Havard was asked to take off her sweatshirt by a male administrator to check whether or not she was wearing the Black Lives Matter T-shirt underneath. “This quasi-strip search was in direct violation of the 4th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. The statement, ‘Black Lives Matter,’ is only controversial if a person thinks black lives do not matter,” according to a statement by Black Lives Matter Phoenix. “Havard and her classmates have the right to exercise

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