Too young to vote, Lashaiah Dickerson cast a vocal protest against President-elect Donald Trump on Monday afternoon.
Dickerson and a group of Kent-Meridian High School students walked out of class to embrace the sunshine in front of the school and collectively and peacefully say, “Trump is not OK.”
Trump, they say, poses a threat to Americans and future citizens-to-be with many of his proposed policies, notably his controversial anti-immigration stance. They also are alarmed by some of the disparaging comments he has made about women and minorities.
“With everything that’s going on now, Trump in office is pretty much the last thing we need,” said Dickerson, a sophomore, who organized the walkout. “He thinks he can talk to women any way he wants. Because he has so much money and power, he thinks he can get away with it. I feel like having this man in office, it says Americans are OK with that.
“… As teenagers we’ve been studying this election since the start of it … in our history class,” Dickerson said. “Since we can’t vote yet, this is our way of casting our vote.”
Damien Jennings, a sophomore, foresees trouble with Trump’s ways, beginning with his pitch to deport or jail 2 to 3 million immigrants living in the country illegally, according to reports. The Republican confirmed this week that he would see his plan through to remove immigrants who do not have U.S. citizenship as he promised earlier on the campaign trail.
“I disagree with his immigration policy,” Jennings said. “I see so many families torn apart. He’s wanting to send them all back or not let them all in. For the process, people can get denied for no reason. It costs money to do that, and most immigrants come over here to make a better life for themselves.”
Laila Dumbuya is the daughter of immigrant parents.
“I know what it’s like to come to a new place. You want to be welcomed. You want to make a better life for you and your family,” she said. “People like Trump want to single them out.
“This is supposed to be the land of the free. But we’re not going to have that opportunity, nor will it be the land of the free.”
Although small in number, the group of about 30 students was big in symbolic message. Many of the students received permission from their parents to participate in the rally.
“Even though it’s not a lot of people … this is how we feel,” Dickerson said.
The peaceful rally at K-M was one of many student-staged protests on public school grounds throughout the Puget Sound area.
Kentlake High School students also had a peaceful gathering Monday, Kent School District spokesman Chris Loftis said.
“The results of the recent election have created anxieties and frustrations for many students and community members,” Loftis said in a statement. “And, as a nation, we have seen responses ranging from the peaceful and thoughtful one observed today at K-M to the violence and vandalism we saw over the weekend in other regions.”
The Kent School District recognizes and respects a student’s right to express their opinion, Loftis said.
“Students do not lose their rights as citizens when they cross the schoolhouse door. They are certainly able to voice their opinions and protest on political matters as any American citizen might in appropriate forums, locales, time and manner,” Loftis said.
“Our approach is to provide a calm, reasoned and proportionate response in our schools,” Loftis said. “This is a learning moment for our students and an opportunity for school and district administration to demonstrate caring student-centered mentorship and reasoned school management leadership. Superintendent (Calvin) Watts has encouraged each of our schools to find age-appropriate forums for students to express themselves peacefully, thoughtfully and appropriately regarding the recent elections. We have also reminded our staff that they should be unbiased in political discourse with students and use any discussion about the election as a teaching moment regarding our systems of governance and our responsibilities as citizens.”
District policy, however, says that any student who chooses to leave class outside normal permission practices is given an unexcused absence, which could impact their assignments, testing and grades.