Aaron ‘Very Proud’ of CHS Students for Ferguson Protest

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Columbia High School (CHS) Principal Elizabeth Aaron, in her morning announcements Tuesday, addressed the recent decision in Ferguson, MO not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown.

The decision prompted CHS students to stage a peaceful walkout at the beginning of the day. When the walkout stretched into third period, Aaron told students that while she respected their actions, they had to return to class.

In her announcement, Aaron called the shooting “painful” and “shameful” for America. “…I will work with all of you, as a teacher, your principal, a citizen, and a scholar, to make America work better for you, all of my students,” she said, before she dedicated the morning’s Pledge of Allegiance to Brown.

“I am very proud of the student voices heard today at CHS,” said Aaron in an email to The Village Green.

Here is the full text of Ms. Aaron’s statement:

Yesterday, a grand jury in the town of Ferguson, Missouri chose not to hand down an indictment against a police officer who shot and killed an unarmed teenager, Michael Brown, this summer.        

Mr. Brown was killed on August 9. The grand jury had been meeting since August 20 to determine whether the police officer, Darren Wilson, should be charged with a crime. In reaching their decision, the 12 citizens of the grand jury viewed photographs, forensic evidence, medical reports, heard the testimony of witnesses, and heard testimony from Mr. Wilson. While we were not present for those deliberations, and were not present in Ferguson on August 9, and cannot know what those present thought or felt, we do know what we feel and think today in response to the grand jury decision. That is different for each of us. 

The FBI and the Department of Justice are still conducting their own investigations of potential civil rights abuses and discrimination that may have played a role in the death of Mr. Brown. 

In 1963, Martin Luther King wrote a letter to clergy in Birmingham, Alabama while he was in jail as a result of his actions in the fight in that American city and nationwide for liberty, equality, and justice for everyone in America. He wrote, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” 

Columbia, I humbly and sadly offer to you this morning that we are all affected by the events in Ferguson. I offer to you also that I think America is an imperfect place. On any given day, our nation’s politics and policies work really well — for some of us. And on other days, our politics, or policies, or economy, work against us, or some of us. America did not work for Michael Brown on August 9. And our nation is worse off for it. This is a painful and shameful fact. 

Today, I will stand and salute the American flag because I believe it is an affirmation of the nation I think can and should work for all of us. It is my job, and I will work with all of you, as a teacher, your principal, a citizen, and a scholar, to make America work better for you, all of my students. 

I invite you to join me. I say the Pledge of Allegiance this morning for Michael Brown.

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