After unrest bubbling out of a March 14 National Walkout demonstration at Antioch High School—a predominantly Black and Brown school run by Metro Nashville Public Schools—ten students now face aggravated rioting charges. Nine of these students—ranging from 14 to 17 years of age—are subject to be charged in juvenile court while one, Fiacle Mugisha as an 18 year old has been issued an arrest warrant and faces serious felony-class charges which could amount to six years in jail.
Viral videos and testimonies show students taking down the American flag and climbing on top of a police car as well as getting into some fist fights.
To identify students, law enforcement used surveillance footage and social media.
In an arrest warrant issued by officer Devon L. Morgan for Mugisha, the language used feeds into the pervading criminalization of Black and Brown youth.
Local mainstream media apparently can see no connection between gun violence in general and police gun violence in particular. They seem unable to understand why students demanding an end to gun violence would target their wrath at the police and symbols of the imperialist state–both massive “purveyors of violence” as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once famously said of the U.S. government.
Instead, news coverage and public reception of the Antioch 10 indicates an apparent desire to isolate and dispose of these students by contrasting them with the “good” and “peaceful” protests of other students. On the Thursday following the walkout, the school community received broad praise for a patriotic ceremony in which a select group of students and others gathered to raise the flag while the school band played the national anthem.
Despite such patriotic displays of so-called unity at the expense of the 10 charged students, there is a growing social media presence organized under the hashtag #antioch10 on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Several Nashville-based groups have been circulating a flyer urging the community to call the Juvenile Court and District Attorney offices to drop all charges against the Antioch 10.
When police occupy schools and neighborhoods in Black and Brown communities, we should not be surprised when students resent the police. When we live in an empire that ruthlessly perpetuates violence around the world, we should not be surprised when young people come to hate the flag that represents imperialist violence and domination. When we live in a society founded on racist violence, we should not be surprised by the continued presence of violence at very level of our society.
On their website, Metro Nashville Public Schools pledges it commitment to “addressing the root causes of discipline problems” and professes a belief in “a holistic, restorative model” for their students, with an added resolve to reduce the well-known disparities in disciplinary procedures between white students and students of color. In the case of the Antioch 10, we must hold MNPS accountable to their pledge while emphasizing the need to rely on community alternatives rather than the juvenile court system or law enforcement.
This kind of sitatuation should be handled by school administrators and community members. All progressive and revolutionary people should stand in solidarity with the Antioch 10 and other groups calling for the charges to be dropped.
Free the Antioch 10! Fiacle Mugisha’s court appearance is scheduled for Friday, April 6. Call DA Glenn Funk’s office now to demand the charges be dropped at (615) 862-5500.