DEARBORN HEIGHTS — Crestwood School District officials and city officials are responding after national media outlets misrepresented a peaceful, student-led walkout as being “pro-terrorist.”
On Friday, October 20 at 9:55 a.m., a group of Crestwood High School students organized a peaceful walkout that was intended to show solidarity with innocent children affected by ongoing global conflicts.
The district said in a statement that this sentiment resonates deeply within the district due to personal family connections.
“Students across the United States frequently engage in walkouts and other forms of peaceful protest in response to concerns that personally and globally impact them,” the statement read. “At Crestwood High School, we uphold and respect everyone’s First Amendment rights. It’s crucial for students, like those across the nation, to have the opportunity to voice their concerns in a respectful and safe environment. We understand the media’s pivotal role in shaping public opinion and wish to remind all media outlets of the responsibility that comes with journalism. Baseless claims and misrepresentations can lead to unintended consequences, undermining the principle of responsible reporting.”
The demonstration lasted for approximately one hour before students returned to their classrooms. Shortly after, a national news media outlet aired a segment claiming “…the pro-terrorist mindset has spread from America’s top schools into public high schools…” while displaying the location tag of “Dearborn Heights, MI” at the top of the screen.
Crestwood High School Principal Roni Abdulhadi said that the security of students is the district’s top priority.
“Our foremost priority is the safety and security of our students and staff,” he said. “As we honor the right of expression, we also emphasize that media portrayals should accurately reflect the intent and context of our students’ actions. The Crestwood School District will continue to promote a safe and secure environment for all of our students and staff.”
Dearborn Heights Mayor Bill Bazzi said that the representation is “scary.”
“The media’s criticism of these students exercising their Constitutional right to assembly and free speech is simply wrong — and frankly, pretty scary,” he said. “I would hope that any organization, especially the national news media, would not attempt to step on young people’s right to free speech.”
The district’s statement also urged media outlets to approach their coverage with integrity, understanding and responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of all.