Black Georgia students suspended for wearing Black Lives Matter T-shirts file lawsuit

·2 min read

A group of Black Georgia students who were suspended for wearing Black Lives Matter shirts have filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against a northwest Georgia school system.

Channel 2′s Tom Jones was in Floyd County, where students say it’s hard to learn when their White classmates are hurling racial slurs at them and running around wearing Confederate symbols.

Lawyers for the students, who attend Coosa High School in Rome, said that during a protest surrounding the death of Georgia Floyd, Black students were made to turn their Black Lives Matter T-shirts inside out, While white students were allowed to carry the Confederate flag and wear belts, hoodies and hats with Confederate imagery.

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The group of five students and their mother filed the complaint with the U.S. District Court in Rome Tuesday, saying the racism and discrimination at Coosa High School is nonstop.

Junior Desirae Turner told Jones that the school system has been insensitive to their complaints about how they’re treated.

“And they just was like they can’t do nothing about it,” Turner said.

According to the lawsuit, the students were suspended in the days after Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis in 2020. Floyd’s death sparked international protests. At some point, a group of Coosa High School students stood on campus waving Confederate flags and yelled racial slurs on the property. A group of Black students staged a counter-protest and wore Black Lives Matter T-shirts.

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According to the lawsuit, the White students were not disciplined, but the Black students were suspended.

Parents said they’ve repeatedly complained about the racism and unequal treatment.

“Just this year alone, I’ve had over 12 complaints,” parent Jessica Murray said.

Attorney Harry Daniels said administrators allow students to wear hate symbols to school. Daniels said Confederate symbols aren’t prohibited in the student handbook.

Turner said she feels threatened by the flags and racial slurs she constantly hears.

“I shouldn’t feel unsafe in my school,” Turner said. “I’m coming here to learn and get an education.”

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The lawsuit seeks to have the students five-day suspensions expunged. The lawsuit is asking or an injunction to get the district to stop the alleged racism.

A spokesperson for the school district said it could not comment on pending litigation.