Four Michigan high school students were suspended after demonstrating against a pro-immigration banner on campus by holding up their own handmade “Trump” and “Build the Wall” signs, which eventually led to a heated, yet nonviolent, argument among students.
Video obtained by local ABC affiliate WZZM showed four male students at Grand Rapids Christian High School kneeling in front of a banner that reads, “Immigrants are a Blessing Not a Burden.” Just as they start to take their pro-President Trump signs out of their pockets and hold them up for a photograph, a teacher rushes over to stop them. WZZM reported that the teacher proceeded to rip up the signs, though that alleged incident was apparently not caught on video.
Witnesses told the station that after the teacher left the area, an argument broke out between students on both sides of the issue, though it remained nonviolent.
Grand Rapids Christian School Superintendent Thomas DeJonge told WZZM that the boys weren’t suspended for two days because of their political viewpoints, but because they “became verbally aggressive and made insensitive comments toward other students.”
Mr. DeJonge said the pro-immigration banner was part of a student group’s “Love Thy Neighbor” project, which gathered stories about the positive impact immigrants have had on the lives of fellow students, WZZM reported.
“The Grand Rapids Christian High School student body is a community that reflects the diversity of opinions that are present locally and throughout our nation,” Mr. DeJonge said in a letter to parents this week. “Regrettably, during a student-led activity on Friday, March 3, that diversity of opinion turned to actions that were disruptive to the school environment. As a result, four students were disciplined for their actions.
“Since then, those same students have apologized for their behavior and requested meetings with fellow students to reestablish the respectful culture that exists on our campus,” he said. “Additionally, students have asked to establish a more formal, ongoing dialogue to help everyone in our school community understand and embrace diverse viewpoints. We are extremely proud of how our students are learning from this experience.”
Three parents and a grandparent of the students involved said they didn’t think the punishment was fair, WZZM reported.