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Assembly Protest Leads to Anonymous Threats, Harassment

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Assembly Protest Leads to Anonymous Threats, Harassment

EHS Antifascists posted a video message to the Young Conservatives Club on Nov. 13.

EHS Antifascists posted a video message to the Young Conservatives Club on Nov. 13.

Image used with permission from EHS Antifascists

EHS Antifascists posted a video message to the Young Conservatives Club on Nov. 13.

Image used with permission from EHS Antifascists

Image used with permission from EHS Antifascists

EHS Antifascists posted a video message to the Young Conservatives Club on Nov. 13.

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On Thursday Nov. 9, Edina High School held its annual Veterans Day Assembly. Controversy broke out when the EHS Young Conservatives Club tweeted a video of a group of 10 students sitting down during the song ‘Taps.’ The incident gained attention because unlike the national anthem, ‘Taps’ has historically been played to remember fallen soldiers. The Young Conservatives Club called the protesters “disrespectful,” and tensions rose as the post was shared and angry commenters responded to it.

An unnamed junior who participated in the demonstration says that the message they hoped to send was simple. “We don’t want to stand, so we shouldn’t be forced to,” she said.  Another unnamed protester added, “This was a way to firmly express our beliefs without intentionally jeopardizing our reputation and safety.” Many students thought the EHS Black Student Union organized the demonstration, but the participant clarified, “the Black Student Union was not involved in the demonstration.” She went on to explain that, “this was a collection of people’s individual choices not to stand.” Principal Andy Beaton clarified the student’s rights saying, “The bottom line with this particular instance is that students are not required to stand for the national anthem, or ‘Taps’ or the pledge,” he said.  

The day after the assembly, tweets were sent out by an anonymous Twitter account named “EHS Anti-Fascists.” These tweets consisted of screenshots from the YCC “GroupMe,” a platform for online group chats, discussing the protest. While some messages were simply criticising the intent of the protest, others displayed blatant racism. One member singled out a protester specifically saying, “he can barely speak English.” Another message said of the protesters, “at least we can relish in the fact that none of them are going to college and won’t amount to anything.” More messages called the protesters “crazy” and “stupid” and suggested the protesters should leave the United States saying, “let’s all do something nice and pitch in for a plane ticket.” One of the unnamed protesters described her reaction to seeing these comments. “I am completely disappointed and not surprised at the comments and messages Young Conservative Club keeps making. They are using their political platform for their racist views.” Another protester said, “I have known these kids since middle school, I didn’t know they had the capability to say these things. Reading the messages made me cry.” When contacted, the YCC declined to comment.

Zephyrus has been in contact with the EHS Anti-Fascists over Twitter but does not know their identities. When asked why they posted the screenshots, they explained,“The comments in the Young Conservatives Club group chat were completely unacceptable, and it became abundantly clear to us that the issue was never going to get solved internally.” They intentionally censored the names of the YCC members, saying the point was not to expose individuals but the group as a whole. They went on to say, “The students of EHS needed to know that the Young Conservatives Club was fostering racism, and leaking their comments to the public was the best way to achieve that.”

The administration’s jurisdiction over social media posts falls into somewhat of a grey area. Although the YCC is not currently a school-sanctioned club (it has been in the past), it uses the “EHS” name on social media platforms like Twitter and is clearly associated with the school. (The EHS Anti-Fascists are not a school-sanctioned club either, it should be noted.) Principal Beaton explained, “The Young Conservatives Club is allowed to post something and say, we totally disagree with students sitting during [the assembly], but when the statements become disrespectful, that’s when we have to step in.” Beaton clarified the views of the club leaders, whom he had talked to at length on Friday, saying, “they are apologetic and frustrated and disavowing some of [the messages], saying being a conservative doesn’t mean being a racist.” The YCC Twitter account has since been taken down.

Tensions grew over the weekend and the EHS Anti-Fascists sparked even more controversy. They posted a video to their Twitter account depicting a figure in a Guy Fawkes mask, a disguise often used by the prominent hacking group Anonymous. The video demanded the removal of every student who displayed racism in the Young Conservatives Club from their group, and an apology for “fostering racism in their official GroupMe.” They further threatened to send the screenshots, with the commenter’s names exposed, to the school administration if the YCC did not meet their criteria. The EHS Anti-Fascists’ video concluded by calling their demands “non-negotiable.”

The anonymous video was deemed threatening by many, even prompting some YCC members to leave school Monday, Nov. 13, fearing for their own safety. Yet, the anonymous group defended the video saying, “we knew before releasing the video that it was going to be blown out of proportion, but it needed to be made.” Despite the video being taken down the same afternoon, they consider it successful. “The Young Conservatives Club never made a unified response to our stipulation, and later that day they were contacted by EHS administration to dismantle their Twitter and GroupMe. We are grateful to the EHS administration for finally taking action, but think more still needs to be done.” One of the aforementioned Veterans Day assembly protesters did not agree with the video’s message saying, “we want the racists to be punished, but we don’t want them to be threatened by anyone.”

Principal Beaton called the video “inflammatory and unnecessary,” adding that “it got forwarded to the police department and its origins are being investigated.” The Star Tribune reports that the police found no “credible threat,” however Principal Beaton indicated that the investigation will continue. This incident comes after a tense fall at EHS, including a student protest regarding enforcement of the school’s dress code. Beaton’s responses to both incidents condemned social media for exacerbating rumors and fostering a mob mentality.

Moving forward, Beaton hopes that if people see harassment or racism on social media they will, “screenshot it, come and see us and we will handle it.” He also hopes to “continue the conversation about the appropriate use of social media.”

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14 Responses to “Assembly Protest Leads to Anonymous Threats, Harassment”

  1. Frederick Hohenzollern on November 15th, 2017 5:08 pm

    This just proves further that the only way to bring America’s glory back is through the Absolute Monarchy

  2. Lous XIV on November 15th, 2017 7:27 pm

    I completely agree.

  3. Edina Dude on November 15th, 2017 11:34 pm

    The Video prompted EDINA POLICE to investigate : THAT should be villified by the Z, not the YCC. The YCC never sanctioned the couple of EHSboys who made the inappropriate tweets, so why is the Z attacking the YCC ? Those tweeters made individual decisions in their own minds, and they are not the majority of YCC. The YCC is NOT The source of the problem . Numerous verbal abuses of students who happen to be white by students who are of african origin has gone unreported…… WOW has the racial identity baloney in the schools backfired- the ESB’s forced focus on race has fostered racism. Why not promote seeing people as people first and trash all racial identity crap and start over ?

  4. John on November 16th, 2017 10:07 am

    Screw off

  5. David on November 16th, 2017 11:00 am

    How does EHS allow a group called “the black student union” to exist? Talk about fostering racisim. No wonder you’ve got issues in Edina.

  6. anonymous on November 17th, 2017 8:03 pm

    Actually, the “Black Student Union” provides support for minorities in a predominantly white school. BSU welcomes all races and genders! We have many issues in Edina, yes, but that doesn’t mean BSU is one of them.

  7. Concerned American Citizen on November 16th, 2017 11:21 am

    Were all of the children required to attend the assembly?

    Are students allowed to disrupt other assemblies with loud music, sitting in the middle of the gym floor, etc?

    Does the school make the students sit quietly in class or are they allowed to disrupt classes with loud music, sitting on the floor at any time, etc? Are assemblies considered different than classes? Does the school have a code of conduct that students should follow?

    Are students required to attend school? Are they required to have vaccinations? Are they required to take tests? What discipline/repercussions would occur if students protested against coming to school? What would happen if they refused vaccinations? What would happen if they refused to take tests. I assume there are rules at the school…..why was this particular instance different and why were the disruptive kids allowed to behave that way?

  8. anonymous on November 17th, 2017 8:07 pm

    If you’re calling the student’s first amendment right to protest and carry free speech “disruptive,” there are deeper issues rooted here. They stood up for what they believe in, that’s their choice.

  9. Jason Aderson on November 19th, 2017 8:13 pm

    There is a difference between “free speech” and attempting to incite or provoke a situation. Choosing to sit down during Taps may be their right, but there are well over 50,000 people buried in Fort Snelling Cemetery that have relative who remembered their service to their country. They ALSO have a right to be offended and stand up for what they believe. What if a group of students were to “peacefully” bring in a trash can to the cafeteria and began tearing apart various holy books? Do we then start labeling the people that were offended as “racists”? There seems to be a clear misunderstanding by many students that freedom of speech does not guarantee someone freedom from accountability of their speech or actions. High school and college may provide a platform for this; however, once one joins the work world those ‘safe spaces” and platforms for free speech will quickly disappear. Corporations have responsibilities to shareholders-not to an employee’s issue of activism.

  10. Gabby Holm on November 29th, 2017 11:05 pm

    As an EHS student, I personally feel embarrassed on how this situation was handled. It was done in such a catty and childish manner. We are in high school and need to realize it’s time to take ownership of what we have done and to grow up. I believe that the kids should have stood up just to show respect to people who have risked their lives for us, but I do understand why they might feel like it is not a necessary need to do so. I feel that the kids in the YCC should not have made those comments. That was very disrespectful and shocking to hear. We are all entitled to our own opinions but not to the point where it can clearly offend someone. Looking at the way the school handled the problem was good but could have been better. I feel the school should have stepped in as soon as anything was said. I do realize that they tried but sometimes more information is needed to get rid of the accounts or other parts of the problem. We all just need to take a little bit more responsibility and grow up. We need to come together as one big group and respect others. Sorry if that was kinda random. I’m just kinda over hearing people point fingers and I’m so over how we can’t accept people the way we are. Let’s all just be good to one another:)

  11. bill white on November 30th, 2017 3:53 pm

    Outstanding reporting.

  12. CJ Biehl on December 8th, 2017 7:33 pm

    Oh Hornets, you are better than this. I’m EHS from the 80’s and I say to you: Don’t reinforce what the other suburbs say about you, find your own voice and look beyond the Edina bubble. You’ll graduate and see there is more out there, not diversity, more opinions, and more people with lives you will find worth knowing than those in the affluent community you are lucky to be from. Have compassion

  13. CJ Biehl on December 8th, 2017 7:36 pm

    *MORE diversity!

  14. Sandra Neumann on December 10th, 2017 9:43 am

    Students of Edina the country is watching your situation. I will first say that I too was shocked by the students who chose to sit during the playing of ¨Taps¨. While there is a legal First Amendment right to do so, I am disappointed that students of high school age in America would have such lack of respect for our fallen veterans. We are talking about people who gave their lives to fight for the freedoms we enjoy as Americans. You are shocked about what you view as ¨racist¨ comments. Do you have any idea the evil that goes on outside of our borders? Most of you were babies on 9/11. I hope you have studied your history and know what happened that day. Who among those sitting would have the backbone to stand against the evil forces in the world who would threaten our way of life? We are all blessed to have the brave men and women of our military who will answer the call to protect us when needed. I am not saying that I think students should not have First Amendment rights. But what I dont understand is why you wanted to make a public protest against dead American soldiers. What specifically are you against? I would love to have someone explain that to me. There are so many important causes in the world that intelligent and energetic students could get behind that would really make a difference to humanity. Why not spend time helping the homeless by volunteering at a Habitat for Humanity or any other of the thousands of worthwhile causes? Sitting down during the playing of ¨Taps¨ while certainly your right, is disrespectful to our veterans, their families and America as a whole. You should reflect on the differences between legal rights and a moral compass. While we cannot force a moral compass on anyone, we would hope as Americans that our young people find one. I applaud the YCC for standing up against the insult against our veterans. Unfortunately, comments that were made in outrage in the heat of the moment that were supposed to be private were made public. Teens need to know that unfortunately there is no such thing these days as a ¨private message¨. Unless you are speaking to your friends in person within the privacy of your own home you must assume that anyone might read your comments. The bigger question that needs to be investigated is, ¨ How was this private message system was hacked in to and who did it? This certainly should be a punishable offense.

Zephyrus welcomes and encourages our readers to engage in our content through substantive, respectful exchanges. To ensure our comments meet these standards, Zephyrus reviews all comments before publication and does not allow comments which contain profanity, vulgarity, racial slurs, or personal attacks. Any comments that violate these standards will be removed.

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Assembly Protest Leads to Anonymous Threats, Harassment