The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest

SMNW

The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest

SMNW

The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest

SMNW

Community Members Protest Racist Assault

Senior Kristina Keys hugs her mom on Dec. 4 in Room 151. (Finn Bedell)

On Dec. 4, concerned community members gathered to speak at the Board of Education meeting in the Center for Academic Achievement (CAA), to expand on the wrongdoings of Shawnee Mission East administration in handling the battery of black sophomore Brey’Anna Brown by a white student. 

SME students attended wearing ski masks with duct tape over the mouth, with sayings like “have our backs” or “am I next” written over with red marker.

Just four days before, a protest was held at the CAA to further oppose the assault. Fourteen East students, also close friends of Brown, teamed with the KC Defender, a digital newspaper covering racial issues and the Black Student Solidarity Network to organize a peaceful protest. 

A group of about 70 people, holding signs demanding action to protect students of color, shouted “If not now then when? If not you then who,” as speakers with megaphones explained the situation along with a list of demands, including mandatory cultural competency for administrators, establishing transparent accountability and revising the Zero-Tolerance policy.

According to Brown and confirmed in a video leaked to the KC Defender, after confronting a fellow student at lunch for calling her friend a slave, a white East student yelled “Shut the f-up,” dropped his backpack, rapidly approached and pushed her while using the N-word. They then exchanged punches, which led Brown to sustain a broken nose. Brown says she was held in the main office for two hours before her parents were alerted of the situation and then faced a five-day out-of-school suspension.

In an interview, Brown stated that she felt she was accused of starting the fight by the Shawnee Mission East administration and an onset of blame made her angry.

The East student has been charged with a felony with one count of aggravated battery and has also been suspended, though Brown does not know for how long. According to the Kansas City Star, court records show that the East student has a past of violence after being charged with two felonies and a misdemeanor in a separate case from June. The Shawnee Mission Post stated that a court hearing was scheduled for Dec. 6.

In an emotional interview conducted by FOX4, Brown expressed her fear of returning to school. “I don’t feel safe enough to go back, where this could happen again and next time it could be worse.”

Before the protest, a school walkout at East happened during 4th hour, on Nov. 27. Currently, students and administrators are at a standstill as to what the next move is.

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Sofia Ball, Writer
Hi! My name is Sofia Ball and I am a writer for the Northwest Passage. Writing started out as a hobby for me. Something I never imagined I would be good at until about 7th grade after taking a creative writing class with Dr. Van Zant. I just started out as a freshman, and already, I've come to know and love many of the classes, teachers and students here at Northwest. I’d like to think of myself as an extrovert, but most of my freetime is spent either reading, writing or watching Netflix in my bedroom. I used to watch The Office all the time before it got removed. The only time you'll ever see me out and about is probably at Cross Country or Track practice. You may even see me handing out our latest newspaper issues around the school.

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