WESTMINSTER, Md. (WJZ) — Westminster High School made good today on their promise to wear t-shirts to school with images on them that were banned from the school’s walls just last week.
The day of silent protest turned into a frightening one, when a bomb threat was called in around 1 p.m. The school was evacuated, but the threat turned out to be unfounded and students returned to class. It is not known at this time if the bomb threat is connected to Wednesday’s events. Police are still investigating.
Students told WJZ’s Rick Ritter that they will not allow the incident to overshadow their protest.
“We’re not going to let one person making a threat ruin our message,” says senior Rubie Avery.
The “We the People” posters that some teachers were forced to take off their classroom walls last week depicted Latina, Muslim and African-American women in the same red, white and blue style of the “Hope” election posters for Barack Obama.
The posters were first put up by some teachers as part of an effort to promote diversity. But some complained, saying they were perceived as anti-Trump.
“After some reflection and some discussion, the posters came down until we can further examine the issue,” Stephen Guthrie, superintendent of Carroll County Public Schools, told WJZ last week. “We don’t really have any guidelines in Carroll County for what can be displayed, other than the classroom can’t be a forum for politics.”
Late last week, the Carroll County Board of Education stood by the school system’s decision to remove the posters.
But with the current climate nationwide, students say they are needed now more than ever and that the message they are trying to send is not a political one.
“It was shocking to me because these posters send a positive message” says Jeffrey Wack, a junior.
“I thought it was unfair and I was confused,” Avery says.
So, they raised money and passed out the shirts to students who wanted to participate in the protest.
Avery said that today was “about accepting everyone and their differences.”
“Even if it wasn’t an issue that white people thought about before, it’s now sparking discussion” says Sheena Patel, another senior. “Diversity is not choosing a side, it’s learning to accept everyone for who they are,” she continued.
Students are also planning to take part in a rally for diversity Friday after school.
WJZ asked Carroll County Schools what their message is to students who feel they’re not being supported, since the posters aren’t allowed to be up in classrooms.
“We met with student leaders and allowed them to organize Wednesday’s silent protest with t-shirts — that shows our support,” a spokesperson said.
The Superintendent for Carroll County Schools, Stephen Guthrie, told WJZ last week that they are committed to diversity and working to diversity their work force.
Shepard Fairey, the artist behind the We The People poster series, told CNN in January that the groups represented in them could be “the most feeling that their needs would be neglected in a Trump administration.”
And the non-profit that helped create the posters widely, The Amplifier Foundation, calls the We the People campaign “a nonpartisan campaign dedicated to igniting a national dialogue about American identity and values through public art and story sharing.”