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Two female African-American students at Star City High School were arrested Thursday after a post-election campus altercation the day earlier between white kids telling black and Latino students to get on the "Trump Train" back to where they came from and black kids yelling, "Black Power." It was one of several post-Trump backlashes at Arkansas schools.
Lincoln County Prosecutor Clint Todd said one girl was charged with third-degree battery, disorderly conduct and terroristic threatening and the other with disorderly conduct. They were arraigned Monday, but Todd declined to give details because they are juveniles.
State troopers, sheriff's deputies and local police were called to both Star City High School and Hamburg High School in response to rumors of guns or potential violence on the campuses. (State troopers did not enter school grounds, State Police spokesman Bill Sadler said, but responded to the call as back-up.)
At Hamburg High, in Ashley County, some kids brought rebel flags to school and waved them around before school started, Superintendent Max Dyson said. The flags were confiscated and students who brought them punished, but Dyson did not say what the punishment was.
Dyson said social media reports that the incident was a Trump rally were incorrect. He sent a message Wednesday morning to parents notifying them of the police searches and saying, "We do not all have to agree with one another, but we must get along. Hamburg High School will not tolerate inappropriate or offensive behavior."
At Star City, one of the white students brought a Trump mask to school, which he wore while taunting black students, witness Tyniquia Brown, a senior at the school, said.
While teachers watched, students began heckling one another and, according to Tyniquia, three girls went up to the white boys and asked them to please stop talking about the "Trump Train."
After that, a black girl punched a white boy in the face "and that's when the teachers came to see what was going on," Tyniquia said.
In a Facebook post, Star City High School student Cody Pickens wrote "all of the people was saying trump train and one of those black girl thought I was video them and she tried to get my phone then she hit me so I grab her by the throat and she fell that when all of the fight started." A screen shot of the post was provided to the Arkansas Times.
But Todd said he had no evidence except that gathered to arrest the African-American students. He said the girl charged with battery and terroristic threatening had posted on Facebook before school that she was going to "fuck somebody up" that day. Todd said he told families that if they had any proof of racial taunts, to provide them. "All these kids have cell phones," he said; he said if there were evidence, it would be on those phones.
Tyniquia said things were quiet Monday at school, though she said a friend of hers was given two days of in-school suspension for talking about the incident.
Superintendent John Laffoon and Director of Student Services Nathan White did not return repeated phone calls to the Star City School District.
Also Wednesday, the Log Cabin Democrat reported a denial by a Conway High School spokesman that white males were carrying Confederate flags and chanting "Hail Trump" through the halls and that a young Native American/Latino girl was assaulted. The newspaper also reported a phone text conversation in which the son of a Central Baptist College professor told him there were "a couple of fights" at Conway Junior High School. According to the paper, the son texted, "Trump rally sort of thing in courtyard before school yesterday and today. One kid got suspended for 2 days, another [I don't know] about. They were holding trump signs and yelling things at black and Mexican people."
A parent of a middle-school child also told the Log Cabin that when the teacher left the room, "one of her peers said she was going to be sent back to Africa."
A letter writer to the Times who asked to be anonymous said her daughter, a student in Cabot, had been bullied at school by students who told her Hillary Clinton, whom she supported in a mock election, "kills babies and supports ISIS," and that she could not use the large water fountain because it was for Trump supporters only. The mother was dissatisfied with the assistant principal's "chuckling" when she made a complaint and she has taken it up with the school district superintendent.
In Fayetteville on Friday, a sign painter sped into action after someone painted "Fuck Niggers" (and "I [heart] Laura") on a boarded-up window at the old City Hospital south of the Fayetteville Public Library. Olivia Trimble dashed to the scene after learning about the sign on her Facebook page and painted "Love Always Wins" in pink and blue over the sign. She also started a Facebook page and the hashtag #Repaint Hate to encourage others to also paint expressions of love over expressions of hate.
LGBT rights were a target, too, last week: After a grocery shopping trip, Melanie Hayes of Rogers returned to her car to find a note next to her marriage equality sticker on her rear window that said, "Your marriage is an "Obama-nation" This is Trump nation now! Time to straighten yourself out!"
The Rev. Dr. Clint Schnekloth, pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Fayetteville, said the church is hosting a meeting of the Northwest Arkansas chapter of Pantsuit Nation on Thursday. He said they plan to "think through and talk" about how to organize in response to concerns they have "around the current political climate." The Arkansas United Community Coalition, which includes undocumented immigrants in Arkansas because of their Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status, will also meet Thursday in Springdale to talk about how the election will affect the community.
Hate speech and insults to religious and racial minorities have been occurring nationwide since before the election. Among the incidents: Students in Pennsylvania marched through their school with Trump signs and shouting "white power." Latino high schools students in Northern California were given mock deportation letters. At Southern Illinois University, students put on black face and posed in front of a Confederate flag to celebrate the election of Trump.
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