MILTON, Vt. – Dozens of students, faculty and community members gathered in Milton to protest the vandalism and theft of a Black Lives Matter flag at Milton High School earlier this month.
Police say surveillance video shows someone cutting the flagpole rope and removing the Black Lives Matter flag, which had been at Milton High School since last August.
“A lot of people in the community and students in particular were outraged by it, and they wanted to take that outrage and use it productively,” said Ari Bergeron, a history teacher at Milton High School.
Days before the flag was vandalized and stolen, a racial equity resolution was discussed by the Milton Selectboard with the intent of “reaffirming the commitment to anti-racist education in Milton.”
Students believed it was important to take a stance as well.
“It’s very personal considering that it happened to Milton High School and all the work that went into getting the flag up in the first place,” said Mariam Pakbaz. “Seeing a lot of students passionate and encouraging their friends to be here is really awesome.”
“We want to make sure those types of actions don’t even happen within the school itself,” added Kaleb Wright. “We want to try to amplify the work that’s coming here.”
Pakbaz and Wright are both involved in the Milton Students for Social Justice group, which organized the event.
The flag’s disappearance sparked debate on social media, eventually drawing comments that had to be removed by a moderator.
Ranen Salha, also a Milton High School student, said she was encouraged by the widespread support shown at Tuesday’s protest.
“I feel like our school really needs to recognize the deep-rooted racism in our communities,” Salha said. “As a person of color in this school, with only about one percent in the whole school, I feel like I’m an outcast.”
Police are asking anyone with information about the flag’s theft to come forward.