In reaction to a racially biased hate crime against four Casco Bay High School students as they waited for the bus on Allen Avenue Jan. 27, CBHS students and staff held a Walk of Solidarity on Monday, Jan. 30, to speak out against hate and fear.
Approximately 300 students and staff walked from the school at 196 Allen Avenue to the bus stop on Monday afternoon. They carried signs with such slogans as “Love Will Win,” and repeated chants such as, “No hate, no fear, everyone is welcome here.”
CBHS Principal Derek Pierce said the Walk of Solidarity was a symbolic one. “As Martin Luther King famously said, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,’” Pierce said. “We want to send a clear message to our community and our city that we will continue to stand up to hate and fear and that ‘We Belong Here.’” Portland Public Schools Superintendent Xavier Botana and Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling joined in the walk.
Portland police said they are investigating the Jan. 27 incident as a hate crime. Police said four black CBHS students reported being accosted by a teenager making racist comments while they waited for a bus about 1:45 p.m. A verbal confrontation followed and the suspect assaulted two of the students and brandished a knife at one point as other students came forward, police said. The suspect, who police said is a white male, about 17 years old with thin patchy facial hair and wearing a distinctive black color Insane Clown Posse hat, ran off down a nearby street.
As a result of the incident, additional security measures are being put in place. “At Casco Bay, it is paramount to the success and mission of our community to be a comprehensively safe and welcoming place for all,” Pierce said. “We will redouble our efforts to make sure that is so.”