Dozens of students from Fairfax High School staged a walkout from their classrooms at 10 a.m. today to protest the gun massacre that took the lives of 17 students at a high school in Parkland, Fla. on Feb. 14.
The walkup, part of National Walkout Day, involved a rally in the courtyard rather than a march to the streets, as has happened at other campuses. And it was obscured by a tall fence and further obscured by school employees who demanded that community members leave the campus.
National Walkout Day is a series of student demonstrations across the country calling for tighter controls on guns and condemning the National Rifle Association, an ardent supporter of President Donald Trump and the nation’s most influential opponent of gun control laws. The walkouts occurred at 10 a.m. local times across the country.
Nikolas Jacob Cruz, 19, has confessed to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School near Fort Lauderdale. He was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder and 17 attempted murders. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
A number of community members came to see the rally but they were restricted by a tall fence that made it impossible to hear what was being said or to really see the rally except through small gaps in the fencing. Fairfax High School staffers cited their desire to protect students’ privacy in ordering l community members to leave the campus and stand on the sidewalk,.
That drew a strong objection from Rick Sparks, a West Hollywood resident who is a theatre producer and director. Sparks said the school’s principal, Kenneth Adiekweh, was “allowing the students to feel like they’re doing something, to feel like they’re empowered, without letting them into the community.”
Sparks said Adiekweh approached him outside the rally and said that students had been given the option of leaving the classroom for the courtyard rally or staying in the classroom to write down their thoughts about the massacre.
WEHOville telephoned Fairfax High to speak to Adiekweh, but the person answering the telephone said only an assistant principal would talk with the media. A message was left for Assistant Principal Mark Ross, who has not responded as of publication.
April Wong, a professional photographer, managed to take some more revealing photographs before being ordered off the campus, which are published below.
The Fairfax walkup appeared to be a relatively small demonstration. The school has more than 2,000 students, and those looking through the fence estimated there were fewer than 100 at the rally, although that was difficult to ascertain given the fence.
Fairfax High, located at 7850 Melrose Ave. near Fairfax, is the public high school attended by most West Hollywood and Fairfax area students.
This was the students’ free speech demonstration and it is their decision as to whether school administrators prevented them from exercising their right to free speech. Similar reports from other adults on-site at the time are disappointing to me, but it wasn’t my or the other adults’/community members’ demonstration. School district administrators across the Nation spent the last week struggling with how to handle the expected walk out, many seeking the advice of the ACLU and many focused on this being an opportunity for a “teachable moment.” In the coming days, students should determine whether their demonstrations were successful based… Read more »
Exactly, thank you Josh Kurpies.
The gates around Fairfax High have been there since, I believe it was 1970. I graduated from there in 1971. There was no reason to open the gates for today’s event. They are there to protect the students. When they were installed, we didn’t like it one bit, but in today’s climate, I am glad they are there for the students.
This was not a public event. You are making a mountain out of a molehill. This was a 17 minute student event. There should have been no outsiders there and the principal did the right thing. I am only sorry that more Fairfax students didn’t participate.
Bravo to community members and Sparks for getting this information out to the public as this is an urgent issue. Shame on Fairfax administration for trying to block these student’s constitutional protections. Now is the time to encourage REAL American Civics and not passively read about it in a book
Cooper, does the school block the public from school events like sports games or fairs?
I would call that a false equivalency since those are after school events.
Seemingly this was for students only during school hours.
Why are people making this a thing?
Please join the public march in DTLA on 3/24.
The West Hollywood City Council should Immediately issue a Public Censure of Fairfax High School and Publicly Reprimand the Person(s) who made the decision to lock the students up which prevented them from exercising their Freedom of Speech. What is the School teaching the Students when they violate their basic Constitutional Rights? Why should every other High School Student have the right of free expression for 17 minutes, but Fairfax High School Students don’t? West Hollywood should reconsider using that High School for the Residents of West Hollywood. The Principal of Fairfax High School should publicly apologize to the Students… Read more »
Appears this was a school event. It wasn’t open to the public. The students’ safety is the most important. This one wasn’t for you. Why are you trying to make this a story?Join March for our Lives event on 3/24 to participate.