A Portland middle school sees fallout after a protest against racism in the school

Some students said some staff members actively perpetrated racism.
Some students said some staff members actively perpetrated racism.(WABI)
Published: May. 18, 2022 at 6:35 AM EDT
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PORTLAND, Maine (WMTW) - Students at Lincoln Middle Schools protested racism in their school Friday.

School officials signed off on the protest and set parameters at Portland school Superintendent Xavier Botana’s request.

“I was protesting for our rights, and I needed our voice to be heard,” sixth grader Hamdi Abdiulhi said.

Students said they’ve experienced or witnessed racism, anti-gay and anti-transgender rhetoric from classmates and that teachers failed to intervene.

“A bunch of racism has been happening and teachers aren’t doing anything about it and teachers are just watching it happen,” Abdiulhi said. “And I don’t think it’s ok. It’s a school, you’re supposed to feel safe in school.”

Some students said some staff members actively perpetrated racism.

“There’s still teachers who are acting inappropriately and who are speaking inappropriately, this is still going on,” seventh grader Maya Fairclough said.

Some students reportedly stayed longer than the allotted time frame during the protest Friday and were locked out of the building and marked absent by teachers.

Following that, interim school Principal Robyn Bailey requested a leave of absence and the superintendent sent a letter to parents saying no further protests would be sanctioned.

“It’s sad that some students that stayed after,” Fairclough said. “They ruined it for other protests in the future.”

Fairclough’s mother said she’s encouraged an environment of activism in her home and was proud when her daughter, who’s biracial, said she wanted to take part in the protest. Now, she says the restriction on protests is unfortunate, but she understands the safety concern after students were locked out of the building.

“There should be an opportunity to continue to protest as much as possible, but also ensuring that students are safe,” Jessica Fairclough said. “Parents should know where they are. Some kids were locked out of the building and parents didn’t know.”

The school district said they hear the students’ concerns and that they are working to resolve the issue.

Students said the problem persists and some plan on protesting in spite of the restriction.

“They’re not protecting us at all,” Abdiulhi said. “They don’t do anything.”

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