High School Protests Pose Unique Security Challenge
Like many could have predicted, the end of a long, contentious election season has led to some pretty strong opinions on the outcome of the Presidential Election. Since Election Day, protesters have peacefully gathered to voice their opposition of President-elect Donald Trump despite politicians’ pleas for unity in the country.
While some protests were expected, there has been one group of protesters that has shocked some people. High school students from around the country most notably in California, Colorado and Maryland, have staged “walk-outs” during school hours.
These protesters, many of whom are not old enough to vote, pose a unique security challenge both for local police departments and school security officials. School officials can only help to keep the protests safe and peaceful while they take part on campus grounds, but lately, the students have been leaving the campus walking together down busy roads, blocking traffic as they chant their opposition.
On Monday, November 14, 500 students from Blair High School in Silver Spring, Maryland walked out of their classrooms at 10 a.m. on the dot. As students began leaving the classrooms, the teachers went on teaching and administration did what they could to keep the students on campus.
Director of Public Information with Montgomery County Public Schools said that the administration offered students a safe space to protest at the school’s stadium, but once the students left campus the dynamic of the protests changed.
Montgomery County Police used their Twitter account to chronicle the movements of the group. First tweeting out, “Students from Blair HS & possibly other nearby high schools leaving school en masse & walking EB University Blvd. MCP officers on scene.”
The police stayed with the group ordering them to stay on sidewalks and remain peaceful, but video from a local new station reporter showed students in the middle of a four lane road, blocking traffic. Police urged people to stay away from the projected route of the group, hoping to deter traffic.
The Montgomery County police say the group remained peacefully protesting and that no injuries were reported as they reached Veterans Plaza around 10:30 a.m. local time. Police stayed on the scene to monitor pedestrian and vehicle traffic.
The phenomenon has been widely criticized on social media, with most wondering why these students are leaving school to protest an election they were not old enough to vote in. Schools and police are focused on giving students a safe place to voice their concern, but when students leave the confines of school grounds, there is only so much campus police and security guards can do to keep the students safe.
Local police have followed these groups as they do other peaceful protests, which a watchful eye while maneuvering traffic around them.
Blair High School said they will be handing down punishments for students who did not have a parent’s note to excuse them from school.