Students at a high school in Tennessee saw an increased police presence after some students decided to wear black in support of activist group Black Lives Matter.
Collierville High School was having an “America Day” on Sept. 14, according to WTVT, and a group of students chose to wear all black, rather than dressing in patriotic clothing. The students said that the black clothing was just a statement, and that the extra police were not necessary.
A spokesperson for the school had said the police were there as a precaution because there had been rumors of a fight after school. The school reportedly did not call police, although Collierville Police were on campus at the time.
The students who wore the all-black outfits said their clothing was intended to make a statement against police brutality and lethal force, and that the rumor about the fight was untrue. "We all wore black because black lives matter," said student Artavious Morris.
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When the students left classes for the day, they found themselves shocked by the number of police at the school.
"After school they thought we were going to have a riot with the other students. And they had extra police officers, security guards and everything after school. We couldn't even take a picture up the street, they followed us ... everywhere, legit everywhere," said Morris.
Classmate Sami Thames also thought the police presence was unnecessary.
"It wasn't even called for because we mess with the white people," said Thames. Thames said that while some white classmates spoke out against the group's decision to wear black, others were supportive.
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"I know some white kids that said we support y'all, I thank y'all for wearing black," Thames recalled.
To those who were against their black clothing, Thames said that her friends shrugged it off.
"We said we were going to be the bigger person about it," she said. "Some dude [on Twitter] said, tell the police to shoot us. And some dude put the Confederate flag up. It doesn't bother us at all, we just live on."
The Collierville School District has released a statement about the incident, saying the school day was not disrupted by the black clothing.
"Reflecting the recent, publicized actions of some organizations and high-profile individuals, a small, coordinated group of students elected to wear black-colored clothing instead," said the school's statement in part. "While these contrasting dress styles understandably encouraged questions and diverse reactions among students, the school day proceeded normally and without major incident."
Officials for the school district said staff are seeking to foster a learning environment where "...differences of opinion can be voiced without fear and hostility and with mutual respect for all viewpoints."