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Protest advocates peace, community

Evalyn Burleant, staff writer

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Tiger Lives Matter: Mission Statement

Tiger Lives Matter is a club committed to advocating for and ensuring that the lives and voices of all Tigers are valued and heard. Additionally, we want to make sure that all Tigers find their place in the world and actively engage in finding solutions to enrich the community.

A student-led protest inspired by the murder of former student Nigel Jackson took place in the auditorium on Monday, May 1. Following the protest, a smaller meeting was held to find a productive solution, which became the club with this mission statement, Tiger Lives Matter.

“Everybody needs someplace where they can vent,” biology teacher Darryl Wilson said. “If you don’t have a place where you can vent, you resort to violence, or you resort to something else. That’s all this protest was about.”

The protest was sparked because Jackson had not been given a moment of silence immediately following his death, as other deceased former students had. As a speaker at the protest, junior Norel McAdoo voiced the opinions of many of those who attended.

“We feel as if there is an injustice at this school, and we wanted to protest against that injustice,” he said. “We, as one, are strong, and we will not be disrespected or silenced.”

Following the protest, a smaller meeting was held to brainstorm a productive action plan. The meeting led to the formation of Tiger Lives Matter, an active community club for the students that is “committed to advocating for and ensuring that the lives and voices of all Tigers are valued and heard.”

“We do not want to be viewed as another group of just angry African Americans. That’s not how we want to be portrayed,” junior Christian Walls said. “We want to be portrayed as a group that wants to actually change things, not only in the school. We do want to make changes in our community as well, for the betterment of everyone in the city.”

In the future, the leaders of Tiger Lives Matter hope to create a memorial wall where students can put up pictures of former students who have passed away. In addition, they will place a box in the Main Office for names of Tigers who have passed, so that principal Nancy Rousseau can acknowledge them on the announcements.

“We started like a grief group where the students could actually come to another student that they felt comfortable talking to about situations,” junior Tzion Saine said. “We are in the process of making a lot of changes. We know time is not on our side right now, but in the future many things will happen.”

Although Tiger Lives Matter formed as a product of anger, its purpose as a grief room is one of its most valuable. By providing peer-to-peer grief counseling sessions in a safe space, it has an important role in creating closure for students who are experiencing the pain of losing a loved one.

“Whenever anyone dies, any memorial that you have is never for the person that died. It’s always for the people that are left here, the ones that are left grieving, the ones that are left to pick up the pieces,” AVID teacher Stacey McAdoo said. “I wanted to make sure that those that were here, that were hurting, had a safe space to express and articulate that pain, and that they knew that they were not alone.”

The violence within the Little Rock community that leads to tragedies like Nigel Jackson’s death is a difficult problem to solve because violence is the result of not being able to communicate in any other, more productive way.

“Violence is the lowest form of communication,” McAdoo said. “It’s kind of like if you think about a baby. When a baby is not able to verbalize what he or she needs, they cry, they scream, they throw tantrums, which is violence. And when you don’t have the skills to express whatever it is that you’re feeling, when you don’t know how to resolve your conflict you resort to acting like a baby. It’s the easiest and quickest thing to do and what involves the least amount of intellect.”

Tiger Lives Matter is working to solve this root problem of violence in the community by organizing fun and educational events like the Safe Summer Kickoff.

“We’re going to have a police officer there to just talk to them about staying safe throughout the summer, with all the conflict and violence going on in Little Rock,” junior Chanel Saine said. “We want our fellow peers to have a fun, safe summer so that they may return back to school for the next school year.”

The event is tentatively set for May 26, which is the last day of school. Students will be able to come to the field after their semester exams to eat food, play games, listen to music, and learn.

“We are all concerned about the violence in our community,” Rousseau said. “The students’ plans for the Safe Summer Kickoff is a first step in sending the message from LRCH that we all stand behind finding peace in our community.”

It’s all about being part of the solution. Students are demonstrating that they have the power to create something good from the anger, pain, and grief of losing a life.

“I personally would like it to be known that I am extremely proud of the students,” McAdoo said. “Those who stayed until the end of the block saw democracy and conflict resolution in full swing… and they walked away feeling empowered and knowing that they were being a part of the solution.”

 

 

 

 

NOREL MCADOO, 11

In the protest I was one of the speakers, I wasn’t an organizer of the protest but I ended up being one of the speakers. And then that was it.

What inspired the protest was we feel kids have felt as if there is an injustice at this school and we wanted to protest against that injustice.

I was at the protest and then I was with some of the organizers who did organize the protest and I ended up saying what a lot of people were thinking and they wanted me to voice that opinion to everyone.

That we as one are strong. And we will not be disrespected or silenced. And that we feel as the students we have the power. we have power in this school and in this community.

And ms rousseau could have avoided the confrontation but she did not. and that’s why a lot of kids were upset by not giving a particular student a mos but giving someone else a mos.

I’m an advocate for the rights of everyone, civil rights, equality, and equity.

We’re planning an event that is coming very soon on May 26 we’re going to have a safe summer cookoff event where everyone can come to the field after their semester exams, get some free food, play some games, and have a word from a police officer to tell everyone how to be safe during the summer. Tentatively May 26.

The world is becoming very violent. LR has had a spike in deaths and homicides this year and it’s just I think I personally think it’s just sometimes it’s a little bit of ignorance, and the segregation in this community, in this city. It’s looking so polarized you got poor blacks and just other minorities in one section of LR and then you got the white people and the higher up people in a whole different side of LR and they don’t even intermingle sometimes. And just facilities and all of that — it’s just unequal. Even the schools, some kids they just refuse to go to Fair, Mcclellan, and where is that? that’s in communities that have majority minority pop majority impoverished people. It’s just unequal.

 

 

 

 

STACEY MCADOO

The protest was not necessarily about how or why anyone died. Whenever someone dies and Central is a huge school so you’re gonna always have people that die every day. And moments of silence, funerals, and all of that they’re never for the dead, they’re always for the people that are left here to mourn, those people that are still here. so these individuals were doing something for them. […] They can’t answer for or why someone did whatever they did because that wasn’t the purpose of why they were organizing the protest.

if we can figure out how to get people to not be violent then that would prevent it. police don’t prevent violence they just respond it. they come after the fact.

violence is the lowest form of communication.

Basically whenever anyone dies, any memorial that you have is never for the person that died it’s always for the people that are left here, the ones that are left grieving, the ones that are left to pick up the pieces. so that was my entry point into all of this. I wanted to make sure that those that were here that were hurting had a safe space to express and articulate that pain and that they knew that they were not alone. And not just for that moment of silence for anybody our role is to be an advocate for and be there for our students.

 

What happens most of the time, those that are violent they’ve had whatever frustration and all of this stuff bottled up inside and so if you don’t find a positive way to release it you either do damage to yourself if you keep it and you internalize it you get high blood pressure you get all of these physical ailments or if you don’t have writing, if you don’t have music, or drama, or some creative outlet to get it out, then I don’t know what you have. I guess violence is what you have left.

 

DARRYL WILSON, SR., biology teacher

everybody needs someplace where they can vent. if you don’t have a place where you can vent you go back to what she said earlier. You resort to violence or you resort to something else. and so if you can’t vent what you’re feeling […] that’s all this was about. some type of ventilation. That’s how TLM started. but as anything, everything changes, and sometimes fast sometimes slow. It started that way, but it changed into something bigger than that, just like when they were venting they started just talking but then it morphed into something bigger than that. so Tiger Lives Matter started that way and now we look at it as a positive force around the school.

 

 

 

 

SHANNON

I think that sometimes we can be led astray by our best intentions because I think they had a very positive idea of what they wanted and that their demands were about anger they feel but I think that anger was displaced and that the protest was disrespectful because it was not rooted in what they thought it was.

I think they protested because they felt that Ms rousseau made a choice about 2 different students because of their color rather than the difference bt 2 different students because of their differences in humanity. and we had a student who was a positive influence and died in a tragic accident who was honored and then we had a student who was a negative influence and died involved in activity that he should not have been in involved in. and he was not honored the same way but his life was not revealing the same type of honor that the first child did. i also feel that demanding that that child be highlighted rather than remembering him as the good person that he was as the people that loved him did not occur i think that what it did was that it highlighted for a couple of thousand students who did not know him the bad choices in his life and the negative things that he had brought onto his family and onto his neighborhood. not saying that any of those things were that child’s fault i just don’t think the action became a positive thing. so demanding that ms rousseau give equal time to someone who was not equal in that way didn’t bring about the honor that they wanted. it brought about a situation of dishonor.

I don’t think that ms rousseau or our school can do more than we do. I think that for some students teachers provide an education and for some students teachers provide love and acceptance and a role model that they do not have elsewhere. I think that job alone is more exhausting than is humanly possible. So where teachers have shortcomings it’s because they’re expected to be superheroes. because we don’t expect anything from any other profession on the planet like we do teachers. and certainly administrators and those that have left teaching to lead teachers. Our problem must be solved in this neighborhood, it must be solved by the police it must be solved by the families it must be solved by the neighbors. […] certain cultures believe that it is their job to take care of their neighbors and their neighbors’ children and their neighbors’ families. Other cultures believe in the adage “it’s none of my business.” and they stay out of other people’s business which allows the violence and the crime to thrive because they will not speak up and help those in charge prosecute or change the neighborhood and the crime.

It makes me sad that we would even think that we have to do this it also makes me sad to think that so many lives will be highlighted in negative ways because of things that happened in neg crimes and events i honestly think that it would probably be best if we didn’t verbally recognize by name any of our students who have died. […] because we have so many students in this building there’s no way for everyone to know everyone else and the conversations that come forward about strangers are not sincere, in any way. if someone who didn’t know my grandmother spoke at my grandmother’s funeral it would not be a powerful experience. and therefore, when somebody passes it should be in honor for the people that know them and love them and not shallow and disconnected by people who do not.

 

 

 

 

TZION SAINE, 11

there’s a lot of kids that felt that somebody that they loved didn’t get a moment of silence which is something they believed that everybody should get. and so they started a protest to raise awareness for that situation. I was asked to be a speaker, so I took that role on.

I prayed. and then I directed people to the right places. I also conducted a moment of silence for all of the fallen Tigers over the past years. after the protest we had a smaller meeting to actually find what everybody had a problem with. and our solution was this club, basically we started we even started like a grief group where the students could actually come to another student that they felt comfortable talking to about situations to where they could have I guess closure or something they felt comfortable doing instead of doing something else and we are in the process of making a lot of changes and we know time is not on our side right now but in the future many things will happen.

The memorial one of the things that people wanted was like a RIP wall it’s a memorial where we were gonna set up something to where they could put a picture up of someone a Tiger that has passed away and it was just gonna be a wall of remembrance to where people could come.

The box in the office was for in the event of a Tiger dying, they could go in there and fill it out and turn it in so that Ms Rousseau would have information of it and could give them their moment of silence.

 

 

 

 

CHRISTIAN WALLS, 11

I really do think right now we do not want to be viewed as another group of just angry American Americans. That’s not how we want to be portrayed. we want to be portrayed as a group that wants to actually change things, not only in the school, even though that’s our initial focus at this point. but we do wanna make changes in our community as well for the embetterment of everyone in the city. we want not only the advancement of African Americans but every race represented in the city and we also want better relations with our police force and other subject areas that we’re gonna get into later but just for the total embetterment of our city, period.

 

MISSION STATEMENT

Tiger Lives Matter is a club committed to advocating for and ensuring that the lives and voices of all Tigers are valued and heard. Additionally, we want to make sure that all Tigers find their place in the world and actively engage in finding solutions to enrich the community.

 

CHANEL

The safe summer event is a free and fun event for LRCH students. We’re going to have a good police officer there to just talk to them about staying safe throughout the summer with all the conflict and violence going on in Little Rock. Also maybe some tips on how to address an officer if they get pulled over for whatever reason. There will also be games, music, and possibly food. We want our fellow peers to have a fun, safe summer so that they may return back to school for the next school year.

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