‘Build A Wall’ Banner Triggers Walkout At Oregon High School

REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

Anders Hagstrom Justice Reporter
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Students abandoned their classrooms at Forest Grove High School Thursday morning in protest of a “Build A Wall” banner found hanging in a school hallway, according to KGW News.

“It was immediately taken down, within literally a minute or two, and the students who hung it have been disciplined,” Connie Potter, chief of staff for the Forest Grove School District told The Oregonian.

The district withheld the names of the students responsible for the banner.

Some said the banner was offensive to Latino students, a demographic that makes up for about half of the Forest Grove student body.

Hugo Salmeron, Student Body President at Forest Grove, told KGW News that while some might argue the banner was protected by the First Amendment, “there’s a big difference between spreading awareness and just being hateful.”

According to the district superintendent Yvonne Curtis there are no plans to punish students who participated in the walkout, most of whom left their classrooms but remained on campus.

The banner and walkout come just weeks after school’s “Diversity Week,” and are the most recent in a string of racially charged events at Forest Grove this spring, beginning with a student who used a racial slur while speaking with an African American teacher in March, the Portland Tribune reported.

Students of Forest Grove and nearby schools took to social media with the #StandUpFG hashtag to call on the high school to address what they saw as an ongoing divide along ethnic lines.

“It’s not right. It’s hateful. It’s misguided anger,” Juan Gonzalez, development director at the Cultural Center of Washington County told the Portland Tribune. “If we want to advance as a society, as a united community, we need to stand up against this racism and hold the individuals [responsible] for these acts accountable.”