On November 10, in the aftermath of the presidential election, students gathered outside the arches of Tam High to plan and start peaceful protests. The afternoon’s protest ended in a violent altercation.
Initially, students used signs and chants to voice their displeasure at the election of Donald Trump as President.
Student protester junior Caroline Moreno said, “We got out here at the beginning of fourth–after third. Basically we were trying to make a plan with Mr. Rice about our protest that’s gonna happen on Monday at lunch. We were trying to make a plan and make some posters. Hopefully, we wanted to get our voice heard.”
The afternoon’s protest ended when an interaction between two students escalated into violence. One of the students involved in the incident, who disagrees with the student protestors’ stance against Trump and wished to remain anonymous, said, “I knew the protests were coming and intended to actually film that. What I said [to a female student protester] was, ‘What part of democracy don’t you understand? Trump won fair and square. Why are you protesting?’ Then we got into a bit of verbal play about it–fairly civilized really. And the person [the student female protester] who ends up attacking me said, “You don’t know my experiences on the subject of race.” I said, “Are you just assuming that because I’m white?” I was about to walk off when I got hit in the back of the head.” Administrators were quick to act, breaking up the two students. Soon afterwards, the crowd started to disperse.
Moreno, who witnessed the altercation and was talking to administrators in the aftermath said, “Some people were getting out of class and this one guy decided to have a camera and he asked us why we were protesting if it didn’t make a difference….He was waving a camera in front of our faces and one of my friends was trying to get him away and he shoved her. And basically it got a little out of hand. I feel like we can’t do stuff like this, like protesting, because of people like him. That’s why some people are scared.”
Earlier in the day principal J.C. Farr sent out an email to the Tam community and made an announcement over the school’s public address system during the last class of the day, addressing the protests students had planned for the following week.
In reaction to rumors of a student walkout during class time on Monday, the administration has set up a planned protest during lunch on Monday in Meade Theatre to encourage students to protest outside of class time.
“I want to provide students a format to express themselves and provide a safe space so that students feel that their voices can be heard,” Farr said. “What I do not like is for students to walk out of class and miss educational time. I would prefer it to be performed during lunch time. We want students to behave appropriately. We want everyone to be safe. We want out discussions to be constructive.”
Addressing the incident that stopped the day’s protest, Farr said, “I think we had an unfortunate interaction between two students where staff had to intervene and handle the situation appropriately. At this time I do not have all the details. I have to wait and get the statements from student and staff to determine what the next steps would be.”
In the email sent out around 2 p.m., Farr wrote, “Please know that any missed class time due to participation in a protest or walk-out will be considered an unexcused absence. We also want to emphasize that free speech is encouraged and protected, but hate speech is not.”