“No justice, no peace. Prosecute the police!” Hundreds of students chanted before taking to the streets Tuesday, November 25th. This was in protest of the ruling not to indict Darren Wilson, a white police officer, who shot and killed an unarmed black teen, Michael Brown-a story that angered and hit close to home for many of the South students rallying against the grand jury’s decision.
Students first participated in a sit-in at 9:30 AM where many wore black in mourning, read books about social justice, and made posters. They crowded the hallway in front of the main office with a viral post regarding the incident explaining, “every institution in America is connected to [the grand jury’s decision].”
The event was initially organized by juniors Thomas Bates, Julia Boucher, and Larry Whiten who lead the walkout. Students left South and walked down Lake Street at around 10:30 to the nearby Third Precinct. There, many students shared their personal experiences with racism, spoke of upcoming events, and delivered positive messages of the need for peace and community within South. Junior Betty Mfalingundi stood above the students and spoke into a megaphone, “For many of these students, being the next Mike Brown is a possibility,” She said. “I’m glad so many people are involved and we’re making a positive change.”
Other students voiced their frustration with the judicial system as a whole. “I don’t think laws by racist old men should hold anything,” Senior Abdul Wake stated. “What happened today really shows the flaws in our system.”
Though anger and frustration was very present throughout the event, students stayed peaceful. The release by Michael Brown’s family asked that protesters showed, “their frustrations in ways that make change.” South students held themselves to this standard by discussing upcoming ways to get involved in social justice events and respectfully thanking South’s staff. “I am really proud right now,” Mfalingundi said. “[Mfalingundi was] so thankful to the administration and Mr. Aponte.”
Teachers, administrators and other MPS staff supported the students’ 1st amendment right to protest with no disciplinary actions taken. MPS released a statement that said, “We will not discipline students for the act of protesting as long as the protest remains peaceful. However, prolonged protests may result in an unexcused absence from class.” Though many students were also not allowed back in the building, most teachers remained flexible and open to communication with those who missed class.