Student protest at Mountain Home High School has ended

The students say their focus today is on their First Amendment rights.

MOUNTAIN HOME - The student-led protest in Mountain Home that we've been following for two days now, finally ended this afternoon.

At the center of the controversy was a painted parking space, with a “Black Lives Matter” theme.

That sparked a counter-protest with students and parents waving Confederate flags saying they want people to know that "all lives matter."

Mountain Home School Superintendent James Gilbert said today, "Members of the Mountain Home student body and school officials are working collaboratively toward a resolution to the situation that is agreeable to all involved."

But exactly what that agreement is, is still unclear at this point.

Earlier today, students from Mountain Home High School gathered in protest for a second day to defend a parking space painted with a “Black Lives Matter” theme.

The school board held a meeting last night to talk about that and the other painted parking spaces, with hundreds of people showing up to support keeping the paint in place.

The group of protesters is a little smaller today, and their message has changed a bit from yesterday. A representative wanted to make it clear that today's protest was about freedom of expression.

We were told that the Mountain Home High student body president was scheduled to meet with the superintendent today to try and reach a compromise.

The superintendent was very clear during last night's school board meeting that he did not have a problem with the content of any of the paintings, the issue is that they were painted without proper approval.

We’ve reached out to Superintendent James Gilbert but we are still waiting for his response.

Because it is a silent protest, the group has declined to speak with the media but they did give us a written statement, which reads:

"The main purpose of our protest is to object to censorship of art and to support our freedom of expression.  Black Lives Matter is a movement that we are passionate about, but our objective today is to protect the artwork.”

They go on to say...

“We understand that our Superintendent Mr. Gilbert is supportive of our protest. We are still here because a compromise has not been reached concerning the artwork. However, we are actively working towards setting a time to discuss our concerns with Mr. Gilbert."

Meanwhile, on the other side of the street a proclaimed "counter-protest" also entered a second day.

Students and parents with Confederate flags protested across the street from the high school and have marched with their flags around the neighborhood. They say their message is all lives matter.

We spoke with them this morning and here is what they had to say:

"All lives matter, we don't believe in racism by any means, when Black Lives Matter shows up it segregates the community.  We tried to unite yesterday, kids we're told they couldn't take their flag onto school property so they decided to stay on this side of the street.”

The counter protesters also said that if the Black Lives Matter painting is allowed to stay that they would like to purchase a parking space and will paint it with a Confederate flag.

Again, the school district hasn't said what it plans to do with the Black Lives Matter mural, as well as the other painted spaces in the school parking lot.

A representative from the Black Lives Matter group told us they were prepared to continue their protest until they reach a compromise with the school district.

Copyright 2016 KTVB


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