Students from at least three Pierce County high schools walked out of school Monday afternoon to protest the presidential election of Donald Trump and what they say is a dangerous direction that threatens their futures.
The News Tribune learned of protests at Stadium and Lincoln high schools in Tacoma, and Franklin Pierce High School in the Parkland-based Franklin Pierce School District. Stadium students said the walkouts were part of a national student movement.
Several thousand students in Seattle also protested.
“We are having a peaceful protest about everything that’s going on — the presidency, oppression, women’s rights, white supremacy,” said April Scott, a senior at Stadium High School in Tacoma.
At least 30 students walked out of Stadium and at least 200 at Lincoln, according to students at those schools. About 40 students protested at Franklin Pierce, according to district officials.
“The day after the election, we came to school and we saw everybody was distraught. We could feel it,” said senior Abranna Romero, Lincoln’s student body president. “We’re a school made up of minorities.”
Romero, 17, organized the Lincoln protest along with senior class president Sierra Wood, who turned 18 the day after the Nov. 8 election.
“Being a mixed (race) child, I see both sides of the spectrum,” Wood said of Trump’s election. “Dealing with people who said ‘Deal with it’ alienated me.”
Stadium junior Katie Roseto said she won’t be able to vote for president until the next election in four years.
“We can’t vote yet, but we have to start small,” she said.
Students said the walkouts were one way to make their voices heard.
Destiny Smith, a Stadium senior, said she is looking to her school for support. She said a student in her dance class is afraid of being deported after Trump is inaugurated in January. She said she’s also worried about friends of her family who are part of the gay community.
Joanna Pelayo, a Running Start student from Stadium who is of Mexican heritage, fears that “minorities are going to be affected.” She worries that white people “don’t care about us” even though the United States is “a country made up of immigrants.”
At Lincoln, a banner reading “Love trumps hate” was taped to the outside doors of the school auditorium. Students were generally peaceful, Romero said, though there were a few objects and F-bombs thrown around.
At one point, a Trump supporter driving his pickup north on G Street near Lincoln started arguing with students, nearly getting into an accident because he wasn’t paying attention to other drivers.
Stadium students said school doors were locked after they left class. Asked whether students would face school discipline for leaving classes early, Stadium Principal Kevin Ikeda said that decision “involves school policy issues” that officials will deal with.
At Lincoln, student government leaders led students out of class. But they got permission — and a bullhorn — from Principal Pat Erwin first.
“We had to run it by him so everybody wouldn’t get suspended,” said Romero.
A Seattle Public Schools spokesman said students who walked out of classes there will receive an “unexcused absence” mark.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.