Yesterday I received an email from Justice for Andy Lopez coalition regarding the suspension of 24 Cook Junior High School Students in Santa Rosa for participation in a demonstration for the 6 month anniversary of the murder of Andy Lopez. The facts as stated were as follows:
- Students walked out of class to commemorate the loss of Andy and push Ravitch for the indictment of Gelhaus.
- Students held up signs for indictment and demanding that teachers cease making demeaning and disparaging comments about Andy.
- In response Cook principal and teachers grabbed the student’s protest signs and locked the school gate prohibiting the students from returning to the school premises as they had planned.
- Unable to enter their classrooms, the protest marched to nearby Elsie HS to call on the Elsie students to join them. After marching past the police into the school building, demonstrators marched through the halls calling on their fellow students to walkout.
- School administrators put Elsie on lock-down, locking classroom doors so no one could join the marchers.
- Cook school sent word to the parents of at least 2 dozen Cook students that they have been suspended from school for the protest.
More facts were sent out from Santa Rosa City Manager based on information from the school district. The facts were as follows:
- Students were not suspended at Cook Middle School or Elsie Allen High School (EAHS) as a result of the walk out or walk on.
- EAHS went into lock down only when the demonstrators were disrupting and disturbing property —this included banging on walks and windows on the campus.
- Students who were truant (not showing up for class) will be addressed like all truancy — parents will be contacted. School staff will be making an additional call to home after second period tomorrow.
- Of the Cook students who participated in the walk off (approximately 10 of the 30 demonstrators) their parents will be called so they understand what happened because it is not known if parents were aware if their students did not make it to class at school today.
- Students were not locked off campus at Cook. First thing in the morning those who participated in the walk off went from the bus directly to the demonstration and did not report to their classroom.
When I look at both sets of facts I have to analyze who has the power here? Who has more to lose by revealing the truth? Can both sets of facts be true? In this day and age of camera phones, where are the photos from either side? Or does any of that really matter? Where does the truth lie? What is true in both sets of facts is that students had a civil disobedience to protest the murder of a young man and the inaction of the District Attorney Jill Ravitch to address the actions of the Sonoma County sheriff. Maybe we should celebrate that the fire of protest is still relevant and the voices for justice will not be silenced. What can we do to support the actions of young people who are non-white in efforts to voice a protest to the politically-motivated inactions of the sitting DA?