Students wear 'White Lives Matter' shirts to school on last day, school takes no action

The picture was shared by a student on Snapchat expressing outrage at the racist messaging in the picture and the lack of action taken against the boys in the picture.


                            Students wear 'White Lives Matter' shirts to school on last day, school takes no action
Image Source: Twitter/VICE News

Five seniors from a tiny high school in rural Pennsylvania, Montgomery Area High School, wore matching "White Lives Matter" t-shirts to the last day of school. The picture was shared by a student on Snapchat expressing outrage at not only the racist messaging in the picture but also at the lack of action taken against the boys in the picture. “One of the most disrespectful things I’ve ever seen happen in Montgomery,” the person who shared the picture wrote in the Snapchat caption. “Only reason you did this was to piss people off and look like a complete racist, not funny at all.”



 

The whole matter was treated lightly by the school and the authorities did not engage with the matter in a meaningful way at all. "They were sent home from school. It was the LAST DAY. There were NO other repercussions," an unidentified source told VICE News. "They even went to prom the very next night." They added, "Some of them are seniors going off to represent OUR school and town." The small Pennsylvania town has less than 2,000 people and has a reputation for tolerating bigotry. It is also known for punishing those who speak out against it.



 

“Each graduating class has roughly 45-60 kids per class,” the source said. “So in a town like this, you don’t really go against the grain or you are bullied and ostracized.” The town has a 97 percent White population and was described as a "very right-wing" and "conservative-Christian oriented" town. The town's ideology is not far from being racist. Even their district’s mascot is the “Red Raider” styled after a stereotypical Native American with face paint and feathers in their hair. Just last year, a group of Neo-Nazis was found illegally protesting at a park downtown.



 

Chief Damon Hagan, Williamsport Bureau of Police told WNEP that the group was dispersed to avoid conflict with a "counter group." But no arrests were made either despite permission being denied for the group to protest in the area. Considering this, it is not at all surprising that the students were not reprimanded more seriously for their racism. Barry Hill Jr., a Montgomery High alumnus who graduated in 2003 recalled how when he was a kid in the early ’90s there were still White power rallies that took place on rare occasions in nearby small towns.



 

The picture has since made rounds on the internet attracting outrage from across the country as well as the empathetic residents of the town who are demanding action. Sherry Lee Havonbrook from Montgomery wrote to the local newspaper, Williamsport Sun-Gazette expressing disappointment and demanding an apology. "I was shocked to see a photograph of students at Montgomery Area High School online recently. They were wearing “White Lives Matter” T-shirts to school on June 4," the letter read. "These students should be ashamed of themselves as this is a known hate group. I am ashamed for the town which prides itself in having such a great school.



 

Havonbrook went on to write in the letter that was also published online, "I’m horrified for the targeted students, staff, and those that attend that do not align with such bigotry. I hope things get better but I’m disgusted. We support everyone in this town and everyone is equal." White Lives Matter, has been categorized as a hate group by Southern Poverty Law Center. It is described as "a racist response to the civil rights movement Black Lives Matter, is a neo-Nazi group that is growing into a movement as more and more white supremacist groups take up its slogans and tactics." It is an attempt to erase the impact the history of racism in America has presently.

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