A group of Georgia high school students planned a protest after a video of their classmates waving a Confederate flag on campus began circulating. But before students were able to hold their demonstration, school administrators allegedly suspended the Black organizers.
The students at Coosa High School in Rome, Georgia, were upset following an incident where four students were filmed carrying the flag during a “farm day”-themed school spirit day without facing repercussions. A number of Black students, along with their white and Latino classmates, spoke out against the act and called it racist.
“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 told Atlanta news station WGCL-TV.
Another student organizer, Deziya Fain, said that the school did not punish the students for carrying the flag but has a policy against students wearing Black Lives Matter apparel.
The organizers started planning the protest after administrators failed to discipline the four students—who are also accused of using racial slurs against Black students—and because they believe the school’s problem with racism is ongoing.
However, the student organizers soon found themselves in the school’s office and were told that they were not allowed to protest. The high schoolers reported they began arguing with administrators over their lack of action after they were questioned about the protest plans.
The same day, a school administrator issued the same warning over an intercom.
“The administration is aware of tomorrow’s planned protest,” they said in a recording of the announcement provided to WGCL. “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 planned to hold a silent protest the following day, on October 8, by wearing Black Lives Matter shirts.
Yet a number of Black student organizers said that they were suspended for causing a disruption while their white and Hispanic peers were not disciplined for protesting, according to WGCL-TV.
“They didn’t suspend her; they didn’t suspend me,” said one white student, Lilyan Huckaby. “We both disrupted all the eighth-grade classes.”
The students continued to gather outside of the school with parents supplying water, ice and food throughout the day.
Floyd County Schools Superintendent Glenn White did not respond to Newsweek’s request for comment but previously said in a statement that the incident regarding Confederate flags did happen at school and that disciplinary action had been taken. He did not provide further details.
The Rome-Floyd County NAACP chapter previously sent a letter to the school in March asking them to address a number of issues regarding racially motivated harassment in the district. Over the weekend, the organization planned to meet with Coosa High School parents following more recent complaints of racism in the district.
“We want to hear the concerns of the parents,” president Sara Dahlice Malone said. “We’ve received so many telephone calls we need to hear it from them. Then we’ll follow up on those complaints.”