Announcement reader fired for political statements

“But before we go, everyone, I hope you’re all aware of the tragedy of the two recent incidents where white cops received no indictment, which took place in the Grand Jury on Monday, Nov. 24 of 2014 for Darren Wilson and Wednesday, Dec. 3 of that same year for Daniel Pantaleo.”

This is what Senior Aliza Muhammad planned to say during the morning announcement on Friday, Dec 5, Muhammad was able to say a few lines about the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and the choke holding of Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York before she was told to wrap things up by Activities Director Joanna Butcher.

Muhammad had not cleared her announcement beforehand and in turn, broke the reader contract by airing personal and political views. Therefore, she is no longer allowed to read MHS announcements, Muhammad said.

“I wasn’t supposed to say what I did but I figured I had the means and the resources to get out what information I wanted to,” Muhammad said. “I do not regret saying it. I understand the consequences of my actions. I’ve just been getting to heated about this whole topic and I felt like I needed to do this, regardless of whether anyone else agreed with me.”

Muhammad had prepared her announcement before Friday morning and wanted to mention more than just the Ferguson and Staten Island incidents. She had planned to make students aware of the shooting of 34-year-old African American Rumain Brisbon in Phoenixx, Arizona, and of 12-year-old African American Tamar Rice in Cleveland, Ohio.

“I never wanted to offend anyone, even though I did say things like ‘there were white cops,’” Muhammad said. “But my whole purpose of doing this was just to get everyone aware of the whole situation.”

Butcher sent out an email to staff members, apologizing for the way Muhammad ended the morning reading and for not knowing how Muhammad would end it.

“I explained that she was not allowed to use a public school announcement system to air or bring up personal (political) views,” Butcher said in the email. “I hopefully explained that I was not upset with her views or how she felt, just her decision to use a school address system.”

“Ms. Butcher, she was pretty understanding,” Muhammad confirmed. “She just said you can say these things on other social media but you know, public schools…these aren’t the types of places to be doing it.”

Muhammad was given a lot of support from her fellow peers regarding her decision to make an announcement about the recent lack of indictment of police officers, she said. She is aware that she might have made some people unhappy with her announcement, but she has yet to receive any outright criticism, Muhammad said.

 

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