In Arizona, a student at Buckeye Union High School ignited a demonstration after she was told to remove her t-shirt on school picture day. Her t-shirt was printed with the slogan “Black Lives Matter.”
Mariah Havard was asked to report to Helene Whitman’s office. The vice-principal said the shirt was disruptive and was told to change into a plain white t-shirt.
“Friday, August 19th I got into a argument with a young caucasian boy who said ‘black lives don’t matter’ and ‘that shirt is meaningless,‘” said Havard.
The white pupil was said to have complained to the administration about the shirt, according to Jihan Forbes of Yahoo! But Havard believes that she was corrected unfairly since another student had come to school in a Confederate flag t-shirt.
“While attending Buckeye, I’ve seen a young lady who wore a Confederate flag shirt that clearly supports racism,” she noted, adding that there were those still under the impression that flag is not a symbol of white supremacy. “The creator of the Confederate flag in his own words said, ‘As a people we are fighting to maintain the heaven-ordained supremacy of the white man over the inferior or colored race.’”
Genesis Santoyo, a fellow student and a supporter of Havard, said that students had come to school wearing a white power shirt and a gay pride shirt. The school has now banned Confederate flag t-shirts.
Ten pupils left their classes to stand against what they saw as a an unfair policy. Mariah’s mother, Roxanne Havard, said that wearing the shirts is just people’s way of stating that their lives matter, too.
Mariah said that later in that week, a male administrator asked her to take off the shirt she was wearing so he could see if she had the Black Lives Matter t-shirt underneath, writes Kayla King Summer of The Arizona Republic.
The organization Black Lives Matter Phoenix considered this action a violation of the 4th Amendment of the US Constitution. It added that the shirt is only controversial if the person reading it believes that black lives do not matter. They also pointed out that Mariah and her peers had the right to exercise their free speech.
A statement on the school’s website, says Jason Volentine for KNXV-TV, announced that Buckeye Union High School was committed to helping its students learn and to creating a safe campus. The statement continued by explaining that it would continue enforcing policies that ensure all students are safe and are part of a secure learning environment.
The post added that the district would remain “politically neutral” while allowing free expression. If and when this self-expression interfered with learning or became dangerous for students, it would have to be addressed.
Havard’s mother said Mariah and other students had received threats, but police reported that they investigated the alleged intimidations, but could not find any evidence pointing to bullying of any kind.
Buckeye Union High School Superintendent Eric Godfrey said the district was meeting with Black Lives Matter representatives, local leaders, and staff to implement a new strategy so the incident can become a learning experience.