SMYRNA — Smyrna High School students held a protest Thursday in response to the removal of a painting depicting political activist Angela Davis, according to school district officials.
Smyrna School District Superintendent Patrik Williams said the school dismissed all students at 12:30 p.m. Thursday after the protest. The school is closed Friday for spring break.
Mr. Williams said in a statement the student-led protest was peaceful.
Smyrna Police Department spokesman Lt. Brian Donner said, “Our two regularly assigned SROs (school resource officers) were in the building monitoring and ensuring there was no violence. No further police resources were needed.”
According to Mr. Williams, the painting was made by several students under the supervision of staff and was “carefully created to celebrate the power of positive social change.”
But more information about Ms. Davis was brought to the district’s attention Wednesday night.
“However, the Smyrna School District learned late last night that the subject of this painting has also been connected to a variety of additional causes, including advocacy for the State of Palestine,” Mr. Williams said Thursday.
“The Smyrna School District further learned late last night that for this reason another community group has objected to the display of this painting.”
Mr. Williams said the painting will remain out of view until both groups can be brought together.
“In short, a student group supervised by staff at Smyrna High School created this painting strictly to celebrate diversity, inclusion and belonging but has subsequently learned that doing so has unwittingly and unintentionally muted and marginalized another valued group in our community,” he said. “Until the district is able to bring both advocacy groups together in an effort to communicate, educate and honor one another in a way that is mutually agreeable and fosters true inclusion, the district administration has approved the removal of the painting which will remain out of view.”