Laurie Fry/Courtesy MSD##McMinnville Superintendent Maryalice Russell shakes hands with Mac High students who organized Friday s walkout. Several hundred students walked to downtown in a demonstration against racism, and then rallied at the district office, where Russell addressed the crowd.
Laurie Fry/Courtesy MSD##McMinnville Superintendent Maryalice Russell shakes hands with Mac High students who organized Friday's walkout. Several hundred students walked to downtown in a demonstration against racism, and then rallied at the district office, where Russell addressed the crowd.
Laurie Fry/Courtesy MSD##McMinnville Superintendent Maryalice Russell talks to students after a brief rally at the district office.
Laurie Fry/Courtesy MSD##McMinnville Superintendent Maryalice Russell talks to students after a brief rally at the district office.
By Tom Henderson • Staff Writer • 

McMinnville students walk out to protest racism

Ariana Grimaldo said she is sick of racism, sick of people treating her as stupid, lazy and "illegal" just because she is Hispanic.

She joined a walkout of hundreds of McMinnville High and Patton Middle School students Friday morning in solidarity with a growing protest against an anti-immigration banner that enraged students at Forest Grove High School.

Someone anonymously posted a banner that read "Build a Wall" on a corridor at Forest Grove High School Wednesday, May 18. The next day, students walked out of the school in protest and -- as word spread through social media -- were soon followed by students at five nearby high schools, including Aloha, Beaverton, Glenco and Hillsboro.

Some parents received emails from school authorities saying the students' absences from class would be considered unexcused.

McMinnville High School Principal Kris Olsen said there will be no such negative consequences for local students.

"There are times when you have to accept these things," Olsen said. "We're in the middle of an election. There's going to be conversations. A lot of these kids are on the verge of being old enough to vote. Some of them already are. There are things they are naturally going to discuss."

Students walked out of class during their second-period classes and marched to Third Street in downtown McMinnville before looping back to the school district office on Baker Street, where they held a brief rally before eventually returning to their schools and classes.

"We started this as a reaction to the racism we face," said Grimaldo, 16. "We are more than the color of our skins. We're not out here because we're Mexicans. We doing this for all Americans."

While the banner at Forest Grove High was quickly removed, she said, the sentiments that have come out about immigrants during the presidential primary through the rhetoric of presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump cannot go unchallenged.

Trump proposes building a wall along the border of the United States and Mexico and compelling the Mexican government to pay for it. He has also said that Mexican immigrants are often criminals, rapists and drug dealers.

Unfortunately, Grimaldo said, too many people believe him.

"They need to have their eyes opened," she said. "We face a lot of racism, a lot of stereotypes. People think we're dumb just because we're Hispanic. They think we're lazy. In advanced-placement classes, we're always the odd ones out. We walk in, and people will look at us like, 'What are you doing here?'"

The banner in Forest Grove lit a fuse, said Andrea Montiel, 16. "We finally got fed up," she said. "Forest Grove woke us up. This is just the beginning. We're going to form a committee and continue to fight against racism."

Erica Raya, 17, said she was one of the organizers of Friday's walk out. "I had friends in Forest Grove who told me what happened there," she said. "I was annoyed that our school wasn't doing anything."

Olsen said there is always concern during student protests that extremists, on one side or another, will disrupt the situation and pose a threat to participants. However, he said, Friday's walkout went peacefully despite a wide diversity of opinion on Trump and immigration issues. He added that protesters were diverse as well. It was not just a protest by Hispanic students, he said.

"It was a pretty mixed group," he said. About 150 students from Patton and about 500 high schoolers took part in the demonstration, he said.

Grimaldo said protesters faced some hostility as they marched through town. "We got a lot of negative reaction," she said. "People flashed us inappropriate fingers, used inappropriate language. Someone told us we were skipping out on our education. Actually, this a step forward in our education."

None of the hostile reactions came from school district administrators. McMinnville School District Superintendent Maryalice Russell greeted the protesters outside her office and said they were indeed furthering their education. “You’re taking a stand," she told students. "You’re standing for the importance of acceptance and tolerance for everyone, and I couldn’t agree with you more.”

Comments

Bob

Insensitive and inappropriate...you mean like going on a protest march, ditching classes, leaving teachers with no one to learn from their prepared class materials? Insensitive like requiring law officers to protect them while they block drivers trying to get somewhere on a public road? Insensitive and inappropriate like the School District Superintendent encouraging their behavior? Inappropriate and over-reactive like protesting a perceived slight because of the posting of a political slogan sign in Forest Grove? Growing up and maturity is not marching and pouting whenever someone says or does something that you find offensive. What our students did today is called self-centered, insensitive and inappropriate behavior.

Joel2828

If anyone at Mac High is being treated like they are stupid, lazy and "illegal" I would recommend that they use it as fuel to excel and accomplish great thing that contribute to society. In the end those great accomplishments will prove everyone wrong.
Walking around town with a sign doesn't accomplish much other than allowing you to blow off a little steam. In fact those that think you are stupid, lazy and "illegal" will probably just become all the more hardened in their opinion if they see you walking around with a sign.
Roll up your sleeves, get to work doing great things and let your actions speak for themselves.

shbrooks

So should we all protest when we don't like the way we are treated? That would include most of the population. Bad example of expressing your views and beliefs.

Sally G

It is important for all of us, students included, to take a stand against racism, whether the racism is explicit or institutional. I hope that the school staff use this as an opportunity to educate students about pluralism and inclusion,and to highlight the history of non-violent public demonstrations as an effective way to make our country more democratic, with liberty and justice for all. Thank you, McMinnville students, for reminding us all.

kona

Wasn't the original sign at Forest Grove a protest against illegal immigration? That is a protest every citizen of the United States should support. There is a great difference between legal and illegal immigration and it should not have anything to do with racism.

doug

I wonder if the students have chosen to stand up because they have experienced numerous affronts that are wearing over time. I have not had their experiences and make no claim to know what this is like. I accept the ongoing challenge to be a welcoming and inclusive community that the students have presented to us.

Jim

I can't believe the administration backed this protest. It shows me how little control they have of the student body. If a bunch of students would have been injured you couldn't have paid off all the lawsuits. It looks to me like some changes need to be made.

Ossie Bladine

kona, the dimwitted sign at Forest Grove High sparked the demonstration, but the debate over "illegals" is a red herring when it comes to how many students feel that led to today's walkout.

Jim, please do tell how the administration should have responded. Referrals? Force? Should they have disciplined all students in the march? Or just the sign holders? Or just the brown ones? What about the top-of-the-class students who decided to participate? I’d love to hear the outrage against the white, 4.0 student being suspended because he or she supported a Latino peer in a demonstration.

In my high school days (99-03), the hallway closest to 17th Street was known as the Hispanic hall, or Mexican hall, or whatever. It was where the ESL classes were held, and where a majority of Latino students hung out between classes. There wasn't too much animosity, luckily, when I was there. But the segregation was oh so obvious. I wish I could go back and be better at breaking down cultural boundaries between classmates.

In today’s demonstration, some McMinnville students were in it for fashion, for the excitement or for that chance to ditch class. But the crux of it was about a new generation of Mexican-Americans and students of other ancestry; Children of both undocumented citizens and U.S. citizens (on behalf of all minorities), letting it be known to peers, to less-understanding community members and to their country that they are proud Americans, and they deserve to be part of every conversation. And there was plenty of support from like-minded 'whiteys' tired of all the segregational BS:

"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Jim

Ossie my whole point was somebody is going to get hurt if you let these kind of things go on. The adults in these situations need to be pro-active and find the people leading the rally and tell them to go to the gym to have a protest not the streets. You may have seen racism when you went to school here but I certainly didn't see it when I coached and my boys went to school there. Our whole family has life long friends of different races. We are all Americans when we live here and it shouldn't matter what color we are.

kona

Ossie, thank you for your comments. We disagree. The debate over "illegal immigrants is not a "red herring". It is an integral part of the conversation and it has become "politically correct" not to discuss the problem. The "walkout" should not be condoned during school hours. If students felt the need to exhibit this behavior it should be done on their own time and not during school hours. Is it now appropriate for students to leave school in mass for every cause they feel needs to be aired? Who decides what is appropriate and what is not?

Joel2828

You were making good sense and had me Ossie, at least up until the point that you said "undocumented citizens." I stopped reading right there. Would you call someone who breaks the law by refusing to pay taxes an "un 1040'ed tax payer?"

Ossie Bladine

kona, Joel, 'red herring' may not have been spot on, and my comment maybe a bit overpassionate after spending an hour reading social media comments on the matter. However, Mac students walked out to support FG students who feel unwelcome despite being American citizens, and to express their own frustrations of being judged by the color of their skin and their family's history. Then the Internet trolls comes out in droves to prove to push the illegal immigration debate and make comments that in many ways prove what these kids are acting out against.

Jim, I happened to be at the school yesterday morning and heard Olsen tell the student body to please stay in class and discuss these matters without a walk out. I think they handled it quite well, but it's fine to disagree. And, I didn't mean to suggest racism was abound when I was there, but subtle segregation (their own 'hall', their own prom and so on). Certainly, in my time, there wasn't a student spreading a photo of himself holding a gun with a "Build a Wall" flag attached to it. So I guess times have changed.

kona

Ossie,
1) What is the definition of an "undocumented citizen"? Is everyone who comes into the United States (legally or illegally) a citizen?
2) I agree it is in very poor taste for "a student spreading a photo of himself holding a gun with a "Build a Wall" flag attached to it". Does that person have that right to do that? Re we now protesting freedom of speech? Or, is that freedom of speech?
3) "Mac students walked out to support FG students who feel unwelcome despite being American citizens". I don't think that is strictly a minority issue. There are many people of all races who might feel "unwelcome" in different settings. Walking out of school and protesting does not enhance their situation, e.g. I have very little respect for the "99 percenters" when they shut down freeways/streets, break windows, scoff at law enforcement and do whatever they feel to protest their status in life. Either we are a nation of laws, or we aren't.
4) You seem to suggest that legal immigrants and illegal immigrants should share the same status in the United States. Is that correct? Does that mean that we should not have a symbolic (or real wall), if necessary to prevent a free flow of people across borders?
5) Thank you for the discussion.

kona

I guess to put it in very simple terms, do you have the same respect for someone who enters your home illegally as you would for an invited guest? There is a significant difference and it wouldn't be prudent for these people to be treated homogeneously in the eyes of the law or society. Yes, they are all humans and should be treated humanly. Entering your home illegally does not necessarily make them a "bad" person, but it could create an atmosphere of disrespect that has zero to do with race. There is a reason why most people have locks on their doors.

Lulu

I find nothing wrong with showing solidarity with the Hispanic students in Forest Grove.
What troubles me is the opening quote from Ariana. Does she feel personally excluded at school? or in this city? and by whom, specifically?
I don't see this story as concerning illegal immigration or the wall or lack thereof. Do the Hispanics at McMinnville High School sense they're being treated differently from other students?

kona

Lulu, you said, "I don't see this story as concerning illegal immigration or the wall or lack thereof". The opening two sentences of the article,

"She joined a walkout of hundreds of McMinnville High and Patton Middle School students Friday morning in solidarity with a growing protest against an anti-immigration banner that enraged students at Forest Grove High School.

Someone anonymously posted a banner that read "Build a Wall" on a corridor at Forest Grove High School Wednesday, May 18."

The story had everything to do with "illegal immigration" and "build(ing) a wall". I agree there were tangents.

Lulu

I was referring to the subhead, of how she was "sick of people treating her as stupid, lazy and 'illegal' just because she is Hispanic."

Mudstump

Good for these students. Protest is part of a democracy and is our right. The banner was divisive and was out of bounds imo. I come from Sicilian immigrants and if I were in high school and someone posted a hate-filled banner against Italians (who were hated and demonized back in the day) it would be worthy of push-back. What a great lesson in civics for all students. Trump's brand of division and hatred is going to be defeated come November.

kona

mudstump, what was "hate-filled" about the banner? I agree that there is no place for that in a school, but "hate filled"? Similarly, school is no place for students to do a protest. Did your "Sicilian immigrant" family come here legally, or did they come here illegally. There is a difference. Would you care if 500 million Chinese (or Indians or Russians) decided to come to the United States illegally?

The "civics lesson" that should be learned is that there is a proper place for protesting. It is not wherever nor whenever a person chooses.

Lulu

Tell that to those who had the guts to march for civil rights, women's rights or demanding an end to pointless politicians' wars. Otherwise, there would have been no changes. There are times when you must get up out of your chair and into the streets.

kona

No, this "protest" was primarily about a banner that was put up to make a statement about illegal immigration. It morphed into many different reasons to elicit sympathy. Walking out of school in defiance of Principal Kris Olsen's caution should not be acceptable. Incidentally, President Obama's administration has been "building walls" during the entire time of his administration. Preventing illegal immigration should be a top priority for every citizen in the U.S. It has zero to do with legal immigration which everyone should accept. It is surprising that so many people do not know the difference, or care.

Rumpelstilzchen

Illegal immigration is not, has never been and will never be a real "problem" for this country. It's an issue that needs to be managed just like lots of other policy areas. But that's not the issue here at all.
We are in a campaign season where appealing to people's lowest instincts has become an acceptable and, unfortunately, successful strategy. The author of the "Build a wall" idea isn't interested in immigration policy, but in getting people worked up and scared, because mad and scared people don't think. Obviously it's working. That the targets of his strategy happen to be our Hispanic fellow citizens, and that many feel increasingly uncomfortable, is no surprise. That they use peaceful and entirely acceptable means to express their concerns, and that their fellow students of other ethnic backgrounds support them, is a very good sign and a great civic lesson. I witnessed nothing that indicated that the protest were geared toward supporting illegal immigration. And if those students who went along more for the entertainment value are a grave concern to you, you must go through life looking for things to be upset about; that is, you must be a conservative.

kona

You said, "Illegal immigration is not, has never been and will never be a real "problem" for this country". That is interesting and considerably differing from our President Obama. Solving the problems of illegal immigration was among the highest priorities for the Obama Administration when he came into office. For you to minimize illegal immigration renders the rest of your comment suspect.

Why is it your opinion that illegal immigration is "not the issue here at all"? "She (Ariana Grimaldo) joined a walkout of hundreds of McMinnville High and Patton Middle School students Friday morning in solidarity with a growing protest against an anti-immigration banner that enraged students at Forest Grove High School." For most people illegal immigration is different than legal immigration. Do you consider both equally? Why do you think illegal immigration "will never be a real "problem" for this country"?

Are you fine with illegal immigration as having the same status as legal immigration? Can you explain that opinion? Are you fine with anyone and as many who desire coming to the United States whether legal, or not?

Why is it "a great civics lesson" to walk out of school? What will that accomplish? Respect isn't gained from protesting.

Are you attempting to suggest that illegal immigration is a problem only for conservatives and acceptable for liberals?

kona

Why do you feel that illegal immigration has never been "a real problem" when 34 percent of the federal prison population is Hispanic and a large segment of that population is represented by illegal immigrants? How large of a percentage of inmates would you consider it to be a "real problem"?

kona

From the White House website,
Critical elements of the President Obama's executive actions are:
•Cracking Down on Illegal Immigration at the Border: The President’s actions increase the chances that anyone attempting to cross the border illegally will be caught and sent back. Continuing the surge of resources that effectively reduced the number of unaccompanied children crossing the border illegally this summer, the President’s actions will also centralize border security command-and-control to continue to crack down on illegal immigration.
•The President’s actions focus on the deportation of people who threaten national security and public safety. He has directed immigration enforcement to place anyone suspected of recent border crossings at the top of the deportation priority list.

publicname

The Border Patrol Agents support Trump. So do many government employees.
Our country would now be "owned" by the Japanese if we had not fought that race. I hope the children understand that. But, it seems they only understand protesting not American history.

publicname

So, do the students feel the same about illegals from Ireland as they do about their own ethnic group?
California voted against benefits for illegal aliens back in the 1990's. Do they know that? Are they against all California voters or Oregon voters who voted against driver's licenses for illegal aliens?
Many countries have walls and Mexico is very strict with illegal aliens. How is it that we do not have the same right when our country is actually going downhill? Our median incomes are dropping.
Do the students want to protest that? WHY NOT?

publicname

All students, and all adults, need to read the US Customs and Border "Protection" website press releases.
This is where the animosity begins. The constant barrage of drugs aimed at our students (ironically), our poor and our vulnerable.
Why don't the students protest what the smugglers do at our border and entry points?
No, they won't because they are concerned about themselves, first and foremost.
Not about the victims.
The victim's families also have a website. The Victims of Illegal Alien Crime.

tagup

I think many of the posters here have missed the reason for the walkout...it's not illegal immigration, it's the racism behind the "build a wall" discussion. Hanging the sign during a unity week at the school was not meant as an argument about boarder security, it was a slam to the hispanic population. That appears to be why the students marched.

I think most people would agree that our boarders need to be secure, but anyone that thinks a wall will solve the problem is not being realistic. A large percentage of the illegal people in our country have overstayed their visa's....meaning they came across the boarder legally...no wall will stop those people. The real answer lies in the hands of our congress, and the development of a bonafied and workable guest worker program. E-verify at the moment is not reliable, and the H-visa program is barely manageable with the hoops an employer must jump through. The majority of undocumented workers come here to work (unlike Mr Trump's characterization of them). If we can control the employment of these workers we can largely control the numbers that are coming into the country.

kona

Tagup, thank you for your perspective. The "build a wall" slogan was developed as a rejection of illegal immigration. The Obama Administration has been "building a wall since President Obama came into office. We would be having this same discussion if 12-15 million Russians, Chinese, Italians or any other group came across our borders illegally. It is easy to morph the discussion to "racism" for convenience and sympathy. Where is the sentiment to stop illegal immigration? Is it just that it is politically convenient to ignore the difference between legal and illegal? Is it convenient to ignore the 34 percent Hispanic population (many, perhaps most are illegal immigrants) in our federal prisons?

"The real answer" is to enforce the laws of this country. These laws certainly weren't established to say that it is acceptable for Hispanics to come to this country illegally and other groups will be apprehended. Playing the "racism card" shouldn't be accepted by anyone. Legal immigration should be and generally is accepted by most citizens as the only way to enter the United States.

The "build a wall" slogan is just that, a slogan to take illegal immigration seriously and not a slogan against legal immigration.

I completely agree that putting up the sign (for a few minutes) was inappropriate by the two students involved. I would suggest that walking out of school to protest was also inappropriate. I would suggest that misinterpretation of the sign as "racism" was inappropriate. What is appropriate for the 12-15 million who have (and still are) entered our country uninvited? Why do some people feel comfortable presenting this situation as "racist" and not what it actually is ... breaking the law and a serious breach of security?

tagup

I don't think the students were unhappy with what the sign itself ...I think they were upset with the motive and timing behind the posting....the student's interpretation was also rooted in other racial issues that had happened recently at the school. Dismissing the students feelings as a "misinterpretation" or playing the "racism card" is a bit insulting and ignores what the students see as a significant problem. Clearly, the students felt strongly enough about the message to make their feelings public... good for them!

Lulu

The comparison of our country to a personal residence is inflammatory as well as simplistic.

kona

Tagup, I agree that there could be a problem in Forest Grove. I think the problem should be addressed outside of instructional time.

Lulu, stated "The comparison of our country to a personal residence is inflammatory as well as simplistic". Why is it "inflammatory as well as simplistic"? Do you have any reasons for that opinion of yours? My statement simply pertains to illegal activity. The example is valid.

Lulu

Someone breaking into your house is NOT equivalent to a person from Mexico walking on "your" Oregon beach and breathing "your" Oregon air. Ergo, your analogy is simplistic. Using your house break-in example, with the unspoken danger of a crime being threatened against your family, your argument is also inflammatory. The point I was attempting to make is Ariana, the initial student quoted, alleges racism is directed at her. I am asking by whom? The school? The faculty? The other students? The curriculum?

kona

Lulu, I didn't use the phrase "breaking in". If your door was left unlocked would you want someone/anyone walking into your house if they weren't invited, even if their intentions weren't to commit a crime? Or, into your back yard?

I surmise from your comment that you don't care if we have control of our borders. Is that correct?

Lulu

Kona--responding to you is an exercise in pointlessness. Your arguments and counterpoints are tedious and sophomoric; most don't merit consideration.

kona

Lulu, that is interesting. Does that mean you don't know how to answer the questions? I am sorry they are so difficult for you.

Sally G

Kona: While the % of Latino prisoners in Federal prisons is greater than their percent in the general population, it is because immigration crimes/violations are federal offenses which is why they end up in federal prisons. (Federal prisoners represent only 9% of the total prison population.) Many well-researched studies show that immigrants have a distinctly lower rate of violent crimes than native-born people in the U.S. You might consider reading an excellent, though lengthy, report for better information than you will get from nativist and anti-immigrant organizations in Oregon and the nation. http://immigrationpolicy.org/special-reports/criminalization-immigration-united-states

kona

Sally G, that is the problem with the numbers you present in that they don't separate legal and undocumented (illegal) immigrants. I have zero problems with people who enter the U.S. legally. It seems like so many when presenting their case want to lump illegal and legal immigrants into the same statistics. I ask, "would it be acceptable to you to have 12-15 million Russians, Chinese, Indians, Syrians or any other group (or all of the above) enter the United States illegally? Or is it just Hispanics that you are fine with entering the United States illegally? Quotas have always been part of the "backbone" of our immigration system. Can we agree on that?

Joel2828

Lulu, I was quite enjoying the exchange of ideas between you and Kona. I think that's what this board is supposed to be all about.
Why suddenly refuse to debate and switch over to being condescending and dismissive? I often don't agree with your positions but I always have enjoyed how you put them forward with passion and logic. It was just kind of weird to see you back out of this one like that.

kona

I really would be interested for someone to answer the question, "would it be acceptable to you to have 12-15 million Russians, Chinese, Indians, Syrians or any other group (or all of the above) enter the United States illegally? Or is it just Hispanics that you are fine with entering the United States illegally?" And why?

dannymcvey

I was skeptical of you McMinnvillians after moving here from Portland but you keep proving me wrong. Way to go McMinnville High!

We're dealing with several layers of racism here...black folks put up with micro-aggressions regularly, then watch the same people hate on others (i.e. Muslims). Most others are so unaware that they only see the most recent or shallowest manifestation of bigotry. Why not just admit that this country failed to properly integrate the formerly enslaved? Why can't we be honest with ourselves -- admit fault -- and grow from the experience as a country rather than split apart?
Again, I solute McMinnville High.

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