Editor’s note: Members of the community have started removing the signs for safe keeping and to preserve them.
Visalia Unified School District (VUSD) Superintendent Dr. Tamara Ravalin sent out an email today announcing the Black Lives Matter (BLM) signs outside of El Diamante High School will be removed by July 3rd. No new signs, posters, or personal messages will be allowed on any district property unless approval is authorized.
The decision to take down the signs was made “due to concerns for the safety and well-being” of students.” There have been multiple incidents at the site where community members have torn down the signs.
In reaction some protesters have decided to meet in front of EL Diamante tonight at 8:30 pm to make a list of demands from VUSD.
In a Twitter message it said, “Visalia unified is trying to silence students. This isn’t about safety, it’s about avoiding the real issues going on and not wanting to deal with them. TONIGHT we will be meeting at El D at 8:30 to make a list of demands we want from @VisaliaUSD.”
A forum sponsored by VUSD will be held Tuesday to create a new space for students to share their voice with the community. The time and details surrounding the forum are yet to be determined. According to staff, a public announcement will reveal that information later today or first thing in the morning.
— getpca (@Simply_Genius_) June 29, 2020
Last week footage surfaced of female Trump supporters tearing down the signs under the cover of darkness. And more recently, a resident of the area was filmed taking down the signs shortly after the protest and march on Saturday.
BLM organizer, Topanga Jackson, has felt unsafe every time she has been by the signs.
“I’m out there not knowing who will come and yell at us and if I will not be going home for putting up signs.”
She believes the school district is probably concerned about how much media exposure the signs are getting, as well as the safety of the protesters and people in the area.
Jackson has been told by residents in the area that they also do not feel safe because they believe the protesters are violent. Recently, a full video of the altercation on Saturday was uploaded online revealing that the resident tearing down the signs was tackled by a younger man attempting to protect the BLM fence.
Other members of the BLM movement have criticized the decision to take down the signs and replace it with a forum.
“If the VUSD really cared about the student body’s voices they wouldn’t take the signs down,” Michael Sunglao, 24, explained. “Changing the setting from a public sidewalk to an indoor forum isn’t contributing to allowing their voice to be heard throughout the city.”
There has not been consensus among BLM protesters on how to respond to the district’s decision. Some believe it is best to comply with the choice to take down the signs and move to a student forum while others plan on being at the meeting in front of El Diamante tonight.