NATIONAL NEWS

Georgia students sue over blocked protest against Confederate flag

May 17, 2022, 5:09 PM | Updated: Jun 13, 2022, 11:00 am
FILE (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

ATLANTA (AP) — Several Black students who were suspended for trying to protest Confederate flag displays at their school in Georgia have filed a federal lawsuit against their school district and its board members, accusing them of allowing an extensive pattern of racism including “overt bigotry and animosity by some white students and teachers against African American students.”

The students, joined by their mothers as plaintiffs, already made news when their protest at Coosa High School was stifled last fall.

Now, in their lawsuit filed Tuesday against the Floyd County school district and its board members, they allege an extensive pattern of racism, including white students reenacting the murder of George Floyd and posting it on social media, and a student who carried what appeared to be a whip and told a Black student “we used to whip you.”

They also allege unfair punishment: Students are banned from wearing Black Lives Matter shirts, but Confederate flag apparel is acceptable under the school’s dress code, the lawsuit says.

The suit faults administrators for “deliberate indifference to acts of racial animosity toward black students perpetrated by white students and teachers; as well as the school’s viewpoint discrimination in its dress code and the inconsistent administration of disciplinary policies to the detriment of Black students.”

Joining the students as plaintiffs are their mothers, Lekisha Turner and Jessica Murray. Murray claims she was pulled over by a police officer after picking up the suspended children, and detained until school officials presented her with a letter threatening criminal trespassing charges if she was found again on school grounds.

Superintendent Glenn White on Tuesday said the district disputes the allegations but had been advised by lawyers to not get into specifics at this time. “The Floyd County school system looks forward to presenting the facts on this situation in court,” White told The Associated Press in a phone interview.

Coosa High near Rome is in the heart of northwest Georgia’s conservative 14th Congressional District, which sent Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene to Congress. About 10% of the school’s more than 800 students in grades 8-12 are Black, state enrollment figures show. About 58% are white, while 26% are Hispanic and the the remainder are multiracial or some other race.

The lawsuit accuses school officials of creating “an atmosphere where certain viewpoints including white nationalism and white supremacy are permitted but speech of an ideologically different viewpoint is expressly prohibited.”

When a group of students sought to protest the ability of their classmates to wear the Confederate flag on campus, the principal threatened student Deserae Turner that she could be jailed for “instigating a riot,” the lawsuit says. The principal also announced over the intercom that any student protesting or even possessing a flyer announcing the protest would be disciplined.

The lawsuit alleges that four Black plaintiffs who organized the protest were suspended for five days, while nonblack student organizers were not disciplined. Lawyers also allege the preemptive shutdown of the protest and demands that students not post on social media violated students’ First Amendment rights. A fifth student who was not suspended has also sued.

The suit says dress code rules allowing Confederate flag apparel but not Black Lives Matter apparel are illegal viewpoint discrimination by a government agency, which also violates the First Amendment. It says the district also has violated the students’ and parents’ right to equal protection under the 14th Amendment, as well as the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Among other remedies, the plaintiffs demand that the school district be blocked from further punishing the students because of their speech, remove prior punishments from school records and pay money damages.

Among the lawyers bringing the suit is Shannon Liss-Riordan, a lawyer seeking the Democratic nomination for attorney general in Massachusetts.

___

Follow Jeff Amy on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jeffamy.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

This booking image provided by the Chicago Police Department, shows Eva Bratcher, who has been accu...
Associated Press

Daughter charged after mom’s body found in Chicago freezer

A Chicago woman is accused of keeping her mother’s dead body in a freezer for nearly two years while living in a nearby apartment.
24 hours ago
U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) leaves her office at the Longworth House Office Building on February 02...
Kevin Freking and Lisa Mascaro

House GOP votes to oust Democrat Omar from major committee

House Republicans have voted to oust Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
24 hours ago
U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast at the U.S. Capitol on F...
Colleen Long and Chris Megerian, Associated Press

Biden urges unity at prayer breakfast under new management

President Joe Biden attended the annual National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday in Washington and delivered a message of unity.
24 hours ago
FILE: Groundhog handler AJ Derume holds Punxsutawney Phil, who saw his shadow, predicting a late sp...
Associated Press

Phil’s Groundhog Day prediction: 6 more weeks of winter

A furry critter in a western Pennsylvania town has predicted six more weeks of winter during an annual Groundhog Day celebration.
24 hours ago
Law enforcement officers aim their weapons at a home during a standoff in Grants Pass, Ore., on Tue...
Associated Press

Oregon kidnapping suspect dies of self-inflicted gunshot

The suspect in a violent kidnapping in Oregon has died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
2 days ago
Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell speaks during a news conference after a Federal Open M...
Christopher Rugaber, AP Economics Writer

Fed lifts rate by quarter-point and signals more hikes ahead

The Federal Reserve extended its fight against high inflation Wednesday by raising its key interest rate by a quarter-point, its eighth hike since March.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Georgia students sue over blocked protest against Confederate flag