Piñon Students Suspended for Gun Violence Protest

Published April 1, 2018

WINDOW ROCK – On Saturday, March 24,  thousands marched and protested across the country in the national “March For Our Lives,” demanding sensible gun laws be passed by Congress and to raise awareness about gun violence.

The march, which drew thousands in all major cities, came a day after Tylan Bahe’s last day of suspension for participating in a school walkout on March 19. Bahe, 15, told his mother, Trista Tallbrother, that he would be participating in a walkout at Piñon High School in Piñon, Arizona, to raise awareness about gun violence and in homage to the 17 victims of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. After listening to her son, Tallbrother supported his decision.

“We did it to bring awareness,” Bahe said. “In our area we have a lot of gun violence and just recently there was a shooting, last month, that was really close to the school.” The sophomore helped to organize a walkout on March 14 similar to those that happened across the United States. “What’s happening in Florida and what’s happening in the United States is not right,” he said. “Students shouldn’t be afraid to go to school.”

The Piñon High students asked their teachers and the school security if it was OK for them to walk out at 10 a.m. on that Monday, leave for 17 minutes and promptly return to class. “We had a handful of teachers who supported it,” Bahe said. “(Our teacher) said, ‘I give you permission to leave the classroom,’ and then we left at 10 o’clock.” The security guards told students it was OK and that the administration was aware of the walkout.

So the students quietly left class, stood on the sidewalk near the flagpole, formed a heart shape and stood silent for 17 minutes, according to parents and students.

They took a group photo with a school maintenance worker and went back to class. “As soon as 17 minutes was up, security walked out and some of the staff walked out and they escorted us to the Eagle’s Nest (the school’s auditorium),” Bahe said. The 17 students were then informed that they would be suspended for ditching. The suspensions ranged from three to five days.

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in the Navajo Times. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

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