CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A student walk out at Garinger High School Friday morning prompted a lockdown at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School, Hidden Valley Elementary School and JM Morehead Academy in northeast Charlotte, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools says.
Channel 9 reporter Gina Esposito saw 100 students marching down the on Snow White Lane headed toward North Tryon Street. She said police were out with the 100 students, who were marching peacfully.
Students told Channel 9 they walked out of the school to protest new immigration policies.
They said they walked more than six miles from Garinger High School to Vance High School.
School district officials said most of the students returned to class but by the second bell, many decided to walk out.
Students told Channel 9 that the protest started as a text between several students who then decided to walk out.
Many of the students Channel 9 spoke with said they feel extremely passionate about what they are doing, while others said they wanted to go back to school so they wouldn't get in trouble.
Those who marched said they’re scared for their families, and worry about losing their parents to deportation. They said their parents came to America to provide a better life for their family.
I came out here because I'm supporting my family, my people,” said Garinger student Esbeida Mendez.
“My situation, I'm trying to be heard because I know the sacrifices that my dad made for me,” said another student, Israel Rosales. “I didn't get to see my dad until I was 5 years old.”
Johnny Mejia was born in the U.S., but said his parents have made big sacrifices to get back into the states.
“My dad crossed it three times,” Mejia said. “He almost died the last time. That was not that long ago.”
Students made it to Vance High School where they continued the protest for a short time the boarded a CATS bus and headed back to Garinger High School.
ICE has maintained that its enforcement operations only target illegal immigrants who commit crimes and are in violation of immigration laws.
Message from the superintendent about the events:
“CMS continues to experience reaction to events affecting immigrant communities,” said Superintendent Ann Clark. “We understand that many of our students are concerned about issues facing our country. We also support and respect their right to assemble peacefully and advocate for causes that are important to them. However, disorderly conduct that threatens the safety of our students, staff and schools is not acceptable and will be handled compassionately but firmly. We encourage students who are interested in organizing a peaceful protest to contact their principals for support. We also ask our parents to talk to their children about how they may be feeling and the importance of expressing themselves in appropriate and peaceful ways at school.”
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