OXON HILL – Students at Oxon Hill High School are crying foul after the school’s administration removed an art display Tuesday.
The display stood in the school’s lobby for two weeks and featured a black man with his hands up and gunshot wounds in his abdomen. He was next to an officer reading obituaries of victims of police brutality. It was pulled Tuesday causing uproar among students.
Honors art students at the school created the piece, which references the deaths of several black men killed by police officers in the last year, including Michael Brown, who was killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. The displayed received both praise and negative comments, including angry reviews on the school’s Facebook page and and on Twitter.
Raissa Tchetcho, a student at Oxon Hill High School, started a Change.org petition asking the school system to put the display back up.
“The piece included statistics and our viewpoints on what has been going on in society. It was truly an amazing and heartfelt display,” Tchetcho wrote in her petition. “Unfortunately we were not able to keep it up in our building. Word and pictures got out and some people felt offended by the work and we were forced to remove it. This action has left us so heartbroken, but we will not give up that easily.”
A spokesperson for Prince George’s County Public Schools said the display was scheduled to come down this week.
“The artwork was displayed in the school's atrium for approximately two weeks. It was scheduled to come down at this time,” said Sherrie Johnson, the Prince George’s County Public Schools public information officer, in an email Tuesday. “It was an expression of a group of student’s viewpoint on events taking place in today's society. While we encourage this type of evaluation, expression and analysis in our school district, we also strive to foster a civil and respectful culture. The school district has a longstanding collaborative relationship with our local law enforcement agencies and they are an integral part of creating a safe and supportive learning environment in our schools.”
Morgan Venzant a social studies teacher at Oxon Hill expressed her support for the students on Twitter, inviting them to organize in her classroom.
“You will not tell my students that #HandsUpDontSHoot is not their reality. You. Will. Not. You came for us. Watch us come for you,” she tweeted.
Students also took to social media and began using the hashtag “#donttakeitdown” to protest the removal.