Recognizing 1st Amendment Rights of Students on Day of Protest
OAKLAND, CA — Less than one week after the Presidential Election, students at middle and high schools across Oakland organized a city-wide march to express their feelings surrounding the presidential election results. Hundreds of students left their schools and met at Fruitvale Plaza in a show of solidarity. Meanwhile, hundreds of other students met at City Hall for a long march through the city.
The City Hall group started the day waving home-made signs and chanting slogans, including “this is what democracy looks like!” and “we reject the President-elect!”
Inspired by impassioned speeches, the group took to the streets. They first marched to Lake Merritt and up around Fairyland, stopping at the northeast corner of the lake near I-580. After a quick stop for lunch, they continued their march up Grand Avenue into Piedmont. The group paused outside Piedmont High School (PHS), where they were greeted by students and staff from PHS and Piedmont Middle School. The group immediately grew in numbers as some of those students joined in, with staff helping to ensure the group’s safety.
A senior at Oakland High named Terrilyn explained why she wanted to participate. “It’s a scary atrocious event that happened in the election. Who says the types of things (Trump) does? They can’t be tolerated in society. We are the voice.”
From Piedmont, the protesters marched to Oakland Tech where they rallied on the steps, calling for more students to join the demonstration. J.D., an eighth grader from Piedmont Middle School, said, “I don’t stand for racism and sexism” He added, “We should be letting immigrants in. This is a free country.”
Oakland Police followed the group the entire march and were helped by Piedmont Police and the Highway Patrol. As they marched, the students encouraged drivers to honk and even high-fived some of them. The last leg of the journey was south on Broadway back to City Hall. Oakland High 10th grader, Fernanda said, “I want my voice to be heard. I don’t want to just be someone who is going to be okay with having Trump as President.”
This was a protest called for and organized entirely by students. OUSD Superintendent Antwan Wilson said, “OUSD wants our students in class and learning everyday. But we also recognize their 1st Amendment rights and know that taking part in such a protest can also be a source of learning for students.”
As a district, OUSD observes Restorative Justice (RJ) week through November 20. Students and staff are encouraged to apply RJ principles and values to every day challenges. Several Restorative Justice Week events are taking place throughout the community.
As the march and rally came to an end, the pride in the eyes of the students was clear. Numerous young people said taking part made them feel “empowered.”
About Oakland Unified School District
In California’s most diverse city, Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) is dedicated to creating a learning environment where “Every Student Thrives!” Nearly half of its 50,000 students speak a non-English language at home. Each of its 126 schools is staffed with talented individuals who unite around a common set of values: Students First, Equity, Excellence, Integrity, Culturally-Responsive and Joy. OUSD is committed to preparing all learners to excel in college, career and community.