Interview with High School Student Protesters in SF Bay Area:

"Students Are Powerful and They Won't Shut Up"

December 13, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |



A correspondent in the San Francisco Bay Area talked to three high school students who have been involved in recent protests and walk-outs against the grand jury decisions letting the cops who killed Michael Brown and Eric Garner free.

Question: Why do you think it is so important to protest against the police murders of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, and the grand jury decision to let the cops go? What is motivating you, and why do you think so many other students walked out of high school? 

Students from one of the high schools in the SF Bay Area that walked out in the last week. Photo:

Student 3: For me, what is kind of motivating is that my life is on the line. I know there is no justice, the killer of me would not go to jail—that is frightening, it gives the police even more power, that there are no consequences following them. And they already have enough power. But the government not saying anything, gives them even more power to do whatever they want to brutalize citizens like they did to me when I was protesting. Saturday night I was attacked by an officer and I was injured.

Student 2: And they didn’t take care of him at all. He could have had a concussion, no medical help. He came to my house, there was blood rushing down his face, there is blood on my floor. 

Student 1: They are supposed to be protecting us. He had to be a fugitive from the police, he had to hide and not go to school. He had to interrupt his life

Student 3: So I do not want other students to be in my situation. I actually had to hide from the government for a couple days. And I don’t think anyone should be afraid of their government. So if there is no voice, and people don’t speak out, then they will follow with more. If you don’t speak up, they will assume you are fine and will keep going with their brutality and abuse. So that is why it is important to be at every protest and give my voice, and hopefully it will be heard and there will be some kind of change.

Q: What did you think when you heard about the murder of Eric Garner and the grand jury decision letting the cop go free without charges?

Student 3: I was not surprised, but I was also shocked. I was not surprised that they let him off because that is the whole government, that is the system. But I was shocked because they knew the whole nation was watching them, not just the nation, the world, to see what they were going to say. And I was so insulted that they just laughed at us, that you guys really think there can be justice for you guys, even if you stop the nation, you know? It was really insulting, not surprising, shocking, and just I didn’t actually know how to react, it was so mind boggling they actually proceeded with their decisions. It wasn’t just the case that no one heard, that it was just a small room and it was just them, it was the whole nation watching, and for them to make that decision was so upsetting, so upsetting, shocking. But it also reveals the truth of this nation, this country, it really does, it just outlines it. That Black lives don’t matter. There is not justice for colored people, minorities, not just African Americans. It was really a big wakening moment. Before it you just kind of heard “there is no justice.” But when they actually show to your face and to the whole world…

Student 2: It was a slap in the face.

Student 3: It was a slap in the face to me. It was an insult and slap in the face.

Student 1: A slap, a kick, a smash, anything, just to instigate us, anything…it was literally rubbing the salt into the gashing wound, it's ridiculous. 

Student 2: And my thing is some people get scared to fight against like the system and stuff, and like I get frustrated and irritated with them, but also I step back and think like this system is built to scare people and it is working. So we have find a way to get people to step out of that, their scaredness, and that is my main goal, to figure out ways for people to not be scared, to try to get out, and that is what we need. Like her dad is an example of someone, he thinks that we need to be selfish, that protesting won’t do anything, and blah, blah, blah. But if people thought of that in the civil rights movement, then nothing would have happened, nothing would have changed. So we need people more and more to get stronger and braver. My goal is to put that bravery into their minds.

Q: These protests are really important, but you are talking about how the government won’t listen to us anyway. What will it take to change that? To put an end to this kind of oppression of Black people and others? How do you think about that and how are you working to get there by what you are doing?

Student 3: What I am hoping is that we get a huge mass, instead of a couple thousand, 20,000 to start and that number keeps growing. For a change it has to be a lot of voices to be heard, not just a couple thousand marching on a Tuesday night. What we really need is people with the connections to the politics to be in the offices to understand where we are coming from, so they can talk to their friends who have the power and the connections to actually change the laws. And also just the mass of that many people being on the streets and speaking their voice will catch their attention I hope, that is my hope. And that I what I think it will take. And everyone unites with it. 

Student 1: My view is, students are powerful and they won’t shut up if you give them the right mind-set. Once they are onto something they won’t get off it. That is the magic of being young. We still think we are invincible. So if we can convince the high schoolers that everything we say is important and everything that we do is being taken into account by adults—if high schoolers didn’t go to school .If we just stopped. Every single day. That’s what I think. Just high schoolers on the street, milling around, and downtown, getting in everybody’s business about it. That is what it will take. What we need to do is get them focused on that one goal only, and that goal is change. It is hard when the mind-set of being selfish is so much easier to stay in at this point. Like I am supposed to be going to class right now. We are supposed to be talking about buying each other Secret Santas! And I am just saying that you guys are just thinking about buying materialistic things for each other—is that what is happening at this time?... It is not a joke what we say. Sometimes we feel like it is because adults look down on us. But if we are not timid, if we let all the rage out, people will listen. They do listen if we really get down to it and let them know it is not OK....

Q: What is that rage you are talking about? Why are the students angry? Why are you angry? 

Student 1: I am so angry because I left a country to come here for justice and I am not finding it. My law is justice. I believe in the earth and I believe in justice and that is what the high schoolers believe in. We are trying to make our way in the world and everywhere we turn we are finding brick walls. We cannot go to college because it is too expensive. We cannot drop out because we end up on the streets. We can’t walk now if we are a darker shade because we will get shot down. We can’t be women because we will be raped, one in three of us. Where is the right in the world? We feel like this transition period between the innocence of childhood and the despairing of adulthood, we don’t know where to go. And it is like there is only one way to go, and that is to be a despairing adult and we don’t want to be that way. We want to be the change. We want to see the change.

Student 2: I think what [student 3] was saying, that we have to get people at the higher power to be on our side is the key thing because they are the main people that have the authority against everybody. If we get their attention and stuff they can help us, like what we said, change the laws and everything. So that is most important. That is what we are fighting for I guess. 

Student 3: For me, I think it is very important that we have people going to, you know how we have in middle school, we have presenters come and talk to us about bullying, and talk about not to do drugs once you get to high school. We need spokesmen, people like that, going around the country, talking about the issues that we have. Parents most of the time just tell us, just be selfish, everyone is for themselves, get your education, get a good job, get a family. That is what we have been taught. Our history classes teach us history about the 1800s. OK, you can learn about that. But it is very important, we need to know what is going on right now and how our rights are being violated. No one in school or media is teaching us that. So most of it we have to go and seek that education for ourselves. But for most high schoolers and teenagers they are not going to do that because they are busy with their own lives. And I try to talk to people, to get them to walk out, be part of the protest, but they say oh no, I have this obligation, which is also keeping them from really knowing what is going on about their lives and their rights. So I think it is very important that we have spokesmen, have meetings at school with the whole school, where we have spokesmen come and talk about what is going on, the issues, why students should protest, speak out and do what they need to do. I think it is very important because they are not being taught that—and the media is not always telling the truth, they are always spinning the stories about protests are being violent and not working so people don’t want to go to protests. They think from watching the media that everyone is just out there to look and be violent and beat each other up. Of course people don’t want to be a part of that. The media is not covering that people are out fighting for a cause they believe in. So I think it is very important that we go out and reach to the students who are not getting the right message. So I would like for some kind of committee or something nationally to start that has the spokesmen going around the country speaking to every middle school and even elementary school, they have the right too to know what is happening. Their older brother might get shot, they won’t know why he got shot and whether there is justice for him or not. So I think it is very important that we educate the young kids and not just assume they know what is going on and are just being silent because half the time they don’t know what is going on and they are being fed the wrong information, and the way they are reacting is maybe not the way they want to react. They just react with what they know, with what they have been told. We need to tell them the right message. The media is not doing that. And I am sure some parents are telling them the right things but not all parents. So I think that would be a really good start, to hold all these meetings and speak to students. Nationwide. High school, middle school. That is very important. I know that would change students' minds, if not the whole school, a couple, and those couple can tell their friends and might change their minds and go speak to their parents, and their parents might speak to their colleague, and there might be a change...

Q: What do you think of the Revolution Club, and the movement for revolution? You have had some encounters with the Revolution Club, what do you think?

Student 3: I am for the revolution, I dream of revolution every day. I am all for it and whatever it takes. I support the revolution in America 100%.

Student 1: I think the Revolution Club is the most necessary aspect of this, but in a way it is unnerving that it is not more widely known among the young people especially. Like nobody knows the Revolution Club, or the [Revolution] bookstore, nobody does. And I think that is the first thing, we have to let them know. When we found you guys, it was hope. Now we have hope. They don’t have that much hope. And I think it is really vital that we have hope. And I think the start of it is adults that understand what it is like to feel oppressed, because we don’t get that much understanding from adults. We feel oppressed by our school system but it is different, it is sort of an oppression that the adults put us into daily, they don’t really connect with us about it. But with any oppression, as long as you can feel a companion with you, that is vital. I think what the bookstore needs to do is spread out into high school levels more. They will go home and they will tell their parents…

Student 2: I think that the Revolution Club is really important and it is really good that we have this in the world, but also it definitely needs to be more worldwide. And like the Black Panthers were, they had similar aspects and they are widely known, and I think that the Revolution Club should become something like that where people like us can go and start fighting back and have a place to talk to grown-ups and have people that are there for us and understand what we are going through and listen to us and fight with us. I think that is really important because we don’t have that. Grown-ups don’t listen to us. They are like, “Oh, whatever, they don’t know what they are talking about.” They have never seen what we have seen. We have seen all this bullshit going on that they have created for us. It made us livid, you know. So I think that we need to like get into a way that we can make this organization bigger because I see it as something really important for me—like, this basically saved my life pretty much and like there are people out there that can use this type of thing. And I just wish we could get it into younger kids that need to have grown-ups listen to them. Black kids need to have people who are there for them that will protect them and will fight for them and they don’t have that. All they see is violence. And we are marching on the streets and trying to peacefully and sometimes not peacefully get their attention and everything. So I think it is really important that we get into the schools and make it more of a bigger, widely known thing. 


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