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Confederate flag sparks protests at Bay City Western High school

(WJRT)
Published: Apr. 18, 2018 at 4:46 PM EDT
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(04/18/18) - Students at Bay City Western High School are speaking out for and against a display of Confederate flags just outside the campus this week.

Pickup trucks flying the flags have been parked in a lot next to school property Tuesday and Wednesday, making a sort of demonstration.

Some see it as freedom of speech and expression.

"It doesn't mean anything. It means a country boy thing to us," said student Cameron Myers.

Others say it's a reminder of a dark time in our country's history and a sign of hate.

"It has such a history that is intertwined with racism," said student Kendrix Szilagyi.

The demonstration started when someone vandalized a Confederate flag on Myers' truck and he said administrators failed to act when he reported the incident.

"They wrote the 'N' word on the back of my truck," he said. "I have the video of her doing it and they ripped down my flag."

So on Tuesday, Myers and his friends decided to take matters into their own hands by showing up with more Confederate flags to protest. Wednesday was day two of the demonstration.

"I want to do what's right," he said. "If I would have went to and touched her car, I would have been suspended. If I would have done anything to her car, I would have been suspended. So I want repercussions for what was done to my property."

Szilagyi said the demonstration on Tuesday and Wednesday goes much deeper than a torn flag and hopes this incident sparks change in their small community.

"I honestly don't care if they fly the flag on their way home, but we have such a small minority population. We do not have a diverse school at all, it is a white majority for sure," Szilagyi said. "So the fact that we have to come in everyday with kids who already feel out of place, every single day they have to come and see these flags that represent far more all of the white students here could ever imagine."

Bay City Public Schools Superintendent Stephen Bigelow is sympathetic to Szilagyi's and other minorities' uneasy feelings about the display of Confederate flags.

"My concern is what it represents to some students in the building," he said. There's certainly some racial undertones that could be taken with it."

Bigelow said his role is about providing a safe environment for all students to learn. He hoping to turn the incident into a learning experience for everyone involved.

Bigelow hopes to bring in outside organizations on both sides of the Confederate flag controversy to discuss the situation.