This happens a week after high school students are told to take off or turn their “Brown Power” sweatshirts inside out.
Caldwell, Idaho — Some community members believe the Caldwell School District’s dress code policy is too broad and disproportionately selects Hispanic students.
“All I want is equality,” said small business owner Sonny Lygus. “It should be equal, not equal.”
Ligas arranged a meeting on Monday to discuss the initiative. The initiative began after Caldwell High School students were asked to remove or turn their “Brown Pride” sweatshirts inside out.
The district’s policy states, “Students shall not, on school premises or at any school-sponsored activity: wear clothing, jewelry, emblems, badges, symbols, signs, or other evidence of membership or affiliation. You may not wear, possess, use, distribute, or sell any other ideas that are with any gang or representative of any gang”
The sweatshirt violated this policy because the term “Brown Pride” is “associated with street gangs currently operating in the Northwest,” according to a school district statement.
“It’s part of our culture and heritage,” he said.
About 30 people attended the meeting. He of Idaho was also involved with various Treasure Valley civil rights organizations, including PODER and the American Civil Liberties Union.
ACLU Community Intake Coordinator Dina Flores-Brewer says the term “brown pride” is much older than gangsters.
“‘Brown Pride’ dates back to the Chicano movement,” she said. “Whether or not the gang appropriated this dress or statement, these were cultural ideals and a form of political protest of great importance to the Latinx community.
Flores-Brewer said making sure students understand that their rights are very important. In some circumstances, clothing may be an extension of your right to free speech.
She said school districts also need to develop policies carefully.
“While this is a balancing act for schools, we must be careful not to disproportionately apply policies to certain populations because of their race or color,” said Flores Brewer. .
Two days after the protest, the high school was tagged with graffiti. “White Power” was spray painted on the wall.
Lieutenant Ben Heinrich of Caldwell Police Department said it was gang related and similar to other graffiti around town. CPD initially said it was a possible hate crime.
“I think the ‘white power’ they spray-painted was just something they threw into the ‘Brown Pride’ rally to take it further and put it on the agenda,” Heinrich said.
Although still under active investigation, Ligas believes Caldwell’s Hispanic community is being unfairly targeted again.
“It’s really easy to point out Chicanos and Latinos. They’re a gang problem,” he said. “[But] I can’t think of any kid or gang that would put ‘White Power’ or anything like that in there.”
Ligas said a group of people, including students who were asked to remove their hoodies, will be attending an upcoming Caldwell School District meeting. They hope to persuade the board of directors to review their dress code policy.
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