West Linn students walk out to protest racism

West Linn students take stand against racism

WEST LINN, Ore. -- Despite the rain, roughly 200 West Linn High School students walked out of class on Monday afternoon. They did it to make a statement. They want to tell their fellow classmates and the community that they are united and won't tolerate racism.

A warning, in the above video, there are some images that could be considered graphic.

Students said a number of overtly racist incidents happened over the last week.

“There have been issues across the country and we're trying to take a stand saying we won't tolerate it,” said Wallace Milner, a Sophomore at West Linn High.

Students said a Muslim girl was called a terrorist and a Latino student was called "illegal."

“To us it's not acceptable. We don't want anyone to feel unsafe. We want everybody to feel like they're protected, like they have a place in our school,” said Milner.

“It's completely dumb and we should just respect others,” said Steven Burch, a Junior at the school.

On Monday, Milner said he found an offensive phrase directed at Jewish people, scribbled on a bathroom wall.

“It's terrible,” Milner said.

Similar racist incidents have been documented across the country and in Oregon, in places like Bend, Silverton and at Reed College.

“Just because a candidate was elected, your racism shouldn’t feel validated and you shouldn't feel good saying those things to people at all either,” said Senior and Student Body President, Tristan Waits.

Waits said he’s sad that there are people who now feel unsafe coming to school. Either way, he feels the racist comments toward his fellow students need to stop.

“Whether it be because racial tensions have gotten so high in our country, or the polarization of our candidates and the electorate in our country, I don’t know. But it's still saddening to me and it doesn't seem like it should be an issue, but it is,” said Waits.

But some students stressed it's not a political issue.

“These issues are not Republican issues. They're not Democrat issues. These are basic human issues,” said Milner.

Over at Madison High School in Northeast Portland, faculty had their own showing. They wore matching t-shirts that said, “At Madison we stand together against racism, sexism, hatred & bigotry.”

“We are all against racism. We are all against bigotry. We're against sexism. We're against hate, and I believe that's something everybody can rally around,” said Petra Callin, Madison High’s principal.

Students at Madison had opportunities to talk about their concerns.

Back in West Linn, the message was unity as well.

“It's showing how much we care about our school and how much we care about our community,” Milner said.


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