Students suspended after threats at pro-Trump rally

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Students suspended after threats at pro-Trump rally

9:22 a.m. PST November 14, 2016

Two students from Silverton High School have been suspended, accused of intimidating and threatening behavior at a pro-Trump demonstration at the school on Tuesday.

Before classes and during both the school’s lunches, 30 to 40 students gathered on and around their trucks, waving Trump signs and American flags.

At least one student was waving a Confederate flag, but took it down after the school’s principal, Justin Lieuallen, spoke to him.

Lieuallen said the students were expressing their own views, but there were a couple of incidents where students overstepped their bounds.

Witnesses reported phrases such as “Pack your bags, you’re leaving tomorrow” and “Tell your family good-bye” being shouted at Hispanic students. Others reported keeping their children home from school Wednesday.

Lieuallen said the school is required by law to look into any incidents reported to them.

He said there weren’t any other demonstrations leading up to election day.

Cole Sandlin, a senior at the high school, was one of the students who organized the demonstration.

He said the students involved with the flag waving demonstration were not the ones saying racial slurs; that they came from two people who “were very clearly away from our event near the sidewalk or in the school.”

“We were very peaceful,” Sandlin said. “All we did was park our vehicles in the front of the parking lot, set up flags and have group of friends hang out in the parking lot.”

He said there were some who did not respond positively to their demonstration.

“One student felt the need to circle us with his car multiple times speeding through the parking lot and even tried swerving at us to try and hit us or intimidate us,” he said.

Sandlin said he was “never okay” with the one young man flying the confederate flag.

“We did not mean for any racism and did not mean for any feelings to be hurt,” he said. “Our event was only meant to show support for our political views not demean anyone.”

He was not aware of who was suspended and believes they were not connected with the demonstration.

To address this moving forward, Lieuallen said, the school is having discussions with students about respecting others and where the line is drawn between freedom of speech, and intimidating and threatening words and actions.

They will also be speaking to students about the consequences they could receive if they violate these restrictions, ranging from detention to expulsion within the school, or further with the police if there are any physical altercations.

He said there haven’t been any physical altercations at this point that he knows of.

Contact Natalie at npate@StatesmanJournal.com, 503-399-6745, or follow her on Twitter @Nataliempate, on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/nataliepatejournalist or on the Web at nataliepate.com

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Natalie Pate

Natalie Pate is the education reporter for the Statesman Journal in Salem, Oregon. Natalie has previously worked for organizations and publications such as Direct Relief International, Waging Non-Violence, and Amnesty International USA. She has had stories published with USA Today, Associated Press and Ozy, among others. Natalie earned her B.A. in Politics and French and Francophone Studies (FFS) from Willamette University. During her studies, she wrote a Politics thesis titled, "No One is Dying: How and Why the U.S. Federal Government Avoids Executing Prisoners on Federal Death Row" and an FFS thesis, in French, on cannibalism in the 16th and 17th centuries. Natalie is a journalist, performer, traveler, fiction writer and more. She is working to publish her dystopian novella, "Choice," which follows a man during 24 hours in solitary confinement for allegedly committing murder. For more information on Natalie visit www.about.me/natalie_pate, like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nataliepatejournalist, or follow Natalie on Twitter (@Nataliempate) or Tumblr (Nataliempate blog "In the Shoes of a Journalist"). Her reporting with the Statesman Journal can also be found at www.StatesmanJournal.com.

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