Students streamed out of schools across Minnesota on Monday afternoon to protest racial injustice, in a coordinated action that coincided with closing arguments in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer charged with killing George Floyd.
At 1:47 p.m., students held a moment of silence for Daunte Wright, a 20-year old Black man who was fatally shot last week by a police officer in Brooklyn Center, Minn., about 10 miles from the courthouse where Mr. Chauvin is on trial.
The organizers of the walkout, Minnesota Teen Activists, said that students at more than 100 schools participated.
A crowd of students, mostly from high schools, gathered outside the U.S. Bank Stadium in downtown Minneapolis as snow fell; The Minneapolis Star Tribune estimated their number at about 250. At Champlin Park High School in Brooklyn Park, northwest of Minneapolis, hundreds of students packed into outdoor bleachers. Students wearing mostly black clothing gathered outside Fridley Senior High School a few miles to the east.
“When you see injustice, stand up,” a woman standing on a concrete block is seen in a video recording shouting through a megaphone to the masked crowd at Fridley Senior High. “When you see injustice speak out.”
She referred to the recent killings of Adam Toledo, 13, who was shot by a Chicago police officer, and Anthony J. Thompson Jr., 17, who was killed in an officer-involved shooting at Austin-East High School in Knoxville, Tenn.
“If you thought police brutality was just for adults, you thought wrong,” another woman is heard to say in the video. “They’re killing us, they’re killing the young people, they’re killing the future of this country. And it’s about time that we realized it was the young people who stood in the face of racism and demanded change.”
The Minneapolis Public Schools said students would not be disciplined for participating in protests as long as the protests remained peaceful. The district’s policy is to count walking out of school as an unexcused absence.
Similarly, the St. Paul Public School District said it does not discipline students for peaceful protests.
Helen Tefera, a senior at St. Louis Park High School just west of Minneapolis, said she had helped organize the walkout at her school, which she said was endorsed by administrators. She estimated that several hundred students walked out of class in a show of support for Mr. Wright and in a stand against racism in general.
“We were outside at a time when we were supposed to be eating lunch, we were outside at a time when we were supposed to be in class,” she said. “We’re walking out for something that shouldn’t exist in the first place: racism.”