Montgomery County Students Take to Streets to Protest Trump

Hundreds of high school students in Montgomery County, Maryland, walked out of class Monday morning to declare their opposition to President-elect Donald Trump. 

About 800 students at Montgomery Blair High School attended a protest on the school's football field, Montgomery County Public Schools spokeswoman Gboyinde Onijala said. Many students returned to class, but some marched from the school to downtown Silver Spring, about 3 miles away. 

The school allowed the peaceful protest to occur on school property, during school hours. However, it was expected to remain on campus, schools spokesman Derek Turner said. 

Many students said they felt that staying on the football field would not make enough of a statement.

The students chanted "We reject the president-elect," "not my president" and "no justice, no peace."

The students headed north on University Boulevard to Wheaton, Maryland. Video from Chopper4 showed Montgomery County police shadowing the students from the southbound lanes.

Students from Blair High were joined along the way by students from Northwood High School and Albert Einstein High School.

"We're not protesting for a new president. We're protesting to have our voices heard," one student said.

The students marched off University Boulevard to the parking area of the Westfield Wheaton mall. They gathered on the top floor of the parking deck shortly before noon, about an hour after the protest began.

After about an hour, students left the mall area and marched down Georgia Avenue, police said. 

The protesters were peaceful except someone threw a bottle from the top deck of the mall parking lot. There were no reports of injuries, and no one was arrested.

The students were located at Veterans Plaza in Silver Spring about 1 p.m. At 1:40 p.m., police said they were dispersing into the downtown Silver Spring area.

Police officials said they would not arrest or charge the students and would let the school system handle any discipline.

Students who skipped class will receive unexcused absences, the school district said Monday afternoon. However, the absences will be excused if their parents write them notes. 

One teen said he called his mom to tell her about the protest as it began. 

"OK. Be careful. If it starts getting violent, then head on home," he said his mother told him. 

Montgomery County Public Schools released the following statement about the demonstrations:

"Today, students at several MCPS high schools engaged in a public demonstration in response to last week’s elections. Participation in this activity was strictly voluntary and was not encouraged by school staff. MCPS Regulation JFA-RA, Student Rights and Responsibilities, states that students have a right to assemble for discussions of issues of importance to them and to demonstrate peacefully.

"Students who choose to exercise these rights during school hours are strongly encouraged to remain on school property when engaging in these activities so that we can ensure their safety and security.

"Students who were absent from classes as part of today’s demonstration will be marked as unexcused; parents may send in a note to reverse the unexcused absence.

"Staff have been reminded to respect student’s freedom of speech and expression and should make sure to avoid any imposition of their own personal political views on students as outlined in Board policies KEA, Political Campaigns and Political Materials, and JFA-RA, Student Rights and Responsibilities, section G Freedom of Assembly.

"MCPS is, and remains, a safe and welcoming place to have conversations about topics that concern students. MCPS has provided resources to our educators to assist them in discussing issues raised by and processing reactions to the discourse that has surrounded this year’s election season. We will continue to draw on the expertise of the Equity Initiatives Unit to help forge stronger understanding of the many perspectives in our community, state and nation."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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