A group of students at a North Georgia high school say just as they were planning to protest this month against peers caught carrying around a Confederate flag during a school event, their Black organizers were suspended.
Meanwhile, students carrying the controversial emblem were let off the hook.
“I feel the Confederate flag should not be flown at all. It is a racist symbol and it makes me feel disrespected,” student organizer Jaylynn Murray at Coosa High School in Rome, Georgia, told Atlanta news station WGCL-TV. Murray said four students were flying the flag on a spirit day called “farm day.”
Meanwhile, fellow student organizer Deziya Fain said she “felt really disrespected how the school didn’t do anything about it and when we are not allowed wear BLM (Black Lives Matter) stuff and they are allowed to carry a racist flag around.”
The group, composed of Black, white and Hispanic classmates, decided to organize a protest after administration failed to discipline the four individuals spotted in the video.
Students noted that the school has a policy against students wearing Black Lives Matter apparel and believes there is an ongoing issue with racism at the school, as the four students carrying the flag were also accused of using racial slurs against Black students.
When administration became aware of the coming protest, they ordered students not to carry out their plans and informed them that they would be disciplined if they decided to follow through. By Thursday, Oct. 7, a school administrator issued a similar warning to the remaining student body over the intercom, the station revealed.
“The administration is aware of tomorrow’s planned protest,” they said in a recording of the announcement provided to the outlet. “Police will be present here at school, and if students insist on encouraging this kind of activity they will be disciplined for encouraging unrest.”
Students told WGCL that when the organizers of the protest complied with school administrators’ request that Thursday to report to the office to discuss the planned protest and hand over any flyers promoting the demonstration the meeting became contentious as the teens complained about the school’s hands-off attitude toward students who use racial slurs.
Administrators reacted by suspending only the Black students in that diverse group that day, the teen protesters claim.
The following day many of the students held a protest just outside of the school property as police kept the school ringed off from any possible disruption.
The teens told WGCL that they had been punished for defying administration — but not all were. Black protesters say only they were targeted while their white and Hispanic peers weren’t.
“All the African-Americans they suspended them, and they didn’t suspend them. They didn’t suspend me and I was yelling and loud. It’s because I’m white,” Lilyan Huckaby, a white student, said. “We’re not allowed to wear Black Lives Matter shirts or the LGBTQ flag, but kids can have Confederate flags and they have said nothing.”
Lekysha Morgan told a reporter her three children were suspended for planning to participate in the protest and that complaints made to school about racial discrimination fall on deaf ears.
The students’ suspension lasts through Oct. 22.
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