Friday, March 16, 2018

Antioch students who rioted during walkout should be prosecuted

On Wednesday March 15th during the student walkout a handful of Antioch students, mostly Black students, went on a rampage and tore down an American flag and stomped on it, and jumped on a police car and damaged it and engaged in fights. Fortunately, no one was injured. This has made national news.

The walk-out was part of an event taking place all across the nation in which students walked out of their classrooms to call attention to problem of gun violence in the schools. Some of the walkouts were clearly a call for gun control, others called on adults to "do something," while others were somber remembrances of the 17 students killed in Parkland, Florida.

Whether or not school officials should have permitted and facilitated the walkouts is questionable.  My view is that school officials should have considered any walkout an unexcused absence no different than any other unexcused absence.  The school system should not be facilitating this protest no more than they should assist students who want to take time off from school to take part in a pro-life rally. In my view, schools should be neutral regarding student activism and not pick and choose which type protest will be granted favored status.

Prior to the walkout,  Metro schools had  clearly outlined the rules for students. One of the rules was that students must stay on campus. Students at Hume-Fogg violated this rule by marching from their school to the state capital to protest.  At many schools across Nashville, the school administrators helped students organize speakers and activities for the walk-outs.

To their credit, students at Antioch, the next day following the riot,  held a ceremony raising the flag, the band played the national anthem and students observed a moment of silence.  MNPS issued a statement saying "inappropriate behaviors that threaten school safety will be handled immediately and firmly in accordance with the Student Code of Conduct and MNPD." I hope so. Some students have reportedly already been suspended. That is not good enough.

This type violence should not be tolerated. Cell phone evidence exist that can identify the students who engaged in violence.  I hope the police conducted investigations and gathered evidence the day this occurred and since.  While protesting is a right and burning your own American flag is protected speech, destruction of public property and assault should not be tolerated. Any student who can be identified as leading the mob action should be prosecuted to the full extend of the law and others who participated in the action should be expelled. Also, students such as those that broke the accommodating rules for the walkout and left campus should be treated as having an unexcused absence.

Unfortunately, this is not what I expect to happen. I expect only minor punishment will be handed out and the incident will be forgotten. Council members and school board members should ensure that this is not simply allowed to be ignored. The media should stay on this story and report what else, if anything, happens.

WSMV News 4
(link, link, link )

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