Two Seattle-area high school yearbooks featured anti-police imagery and messages supporting student activism around Black Lives Matter.
The Woodinville High School yearbook featured an image showing student protesters. In the photo, one girl holds up a sign reading, “ACAB.” The same photo was featured in a video collage at their graduation ceremony last week.
At Bonney Lake High School, a part of the yearbook adopted a similar theme. The section on BLM activism featured art of a white cop beating a Black woman as her white friend defends her. It even offers info to donate to the BLM political movement.
Traditionally, yearbooks eschew overtly political or controversial messages and images. This year, these two schools embraced vicious and dangerous messages that upset some parents and students.
Woodinville HS says ‘ACAB’
Woodinville HS’s yearbook title is “Piecing Us Together.”
Like most yearbooks, it features photos of students enjoying the school year as best as possible, given the pandemic forced students into a remote-learning environment. It also explored how some students spent their leisure time. For one group of students, they passed the time by bashing the police.
Seven students were featured in a BLM Protest photograph holding up various signs. One student sign says, “Use your white privilege to end your white privilege.” Another disingenuously asks, “Why is ending racism so controversial?”
But one student holds a controversial and hateful sign: “ACAB,” which stands for “all cops are bastards.”
For parents and students connected to law enforcement, the message was offensive. They’re wondering how it made it into the yearbook, to begin with.
Woodinville HS feigns ignorance
Chanting and screaming “ACAB” was a mainstay message from the BLM and Antifa movements locally and nationally. Nevertheless, the communications officer for the district says staff didn’t know what it meant.
Lisa Youngblood Hall from the Northshore School District tells the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH that the “ACAB image does not reflect our District values or those of Woodinville High School.”
She says the image’s inclusion was unintentional.
“The inclusion of the image was a mistake. We learned that staff who allowed the image in the yearbook were not aware of the meaning, and honestly many other staff members had to ask what it meant once the concern was brought to our attention,” Hall emailed. “The situation was addressed with staff who are embarrassed and apologetic about including the image and the unintended impact of this lack of oversight.”
If staff didn’t know what “ACAB” stood for, why didn’t they ask before printing it in the yearbook? Hall did not say but promises to “be more vigilant in our review of future presentations to better represent our district’s core values.”
They were not vigilant enough to keep the image out of a video collage during graduation ceremonies on June 16. It was part of a series of photos presented to students and their families. But at least one parent tells me he called the school to express concern the day before graduation.
Cop beating a Black woman in Bonney Lake HS yearbook
The Bonney Lake High School yearbook was overtly political but not necessarily one-sided. It included commentary from the conservative student body president, a survey of the student’s political identities, and a critique of the current divisive nature of politics.
But it was the section promoting BLM and violent, anti-police imagery that caught the attention of some parents.
The section includes a timeline of events surrounding the BLM movement. It also includes a link “if you would like to donate” to the BLM political movement.
More controversial is the student artwork, “Liberty and Justice for All.”
To the backdrop of the Statue of Liberty, BLM protesters gather with signs. The messages include, “Silence is violence,” and “Stop killing us.”
But the art also includes a white police officer in riot gear with his baton raised over his head. It shows a beating in progress. The officer swings the baton toward a Black woman taking a knee, as a white woman protects her.
District says sorry, but not for the anti-police imagery
The district’s communications director, Elle Warmuth, defended the “award-winning BLHS student artwork” in an email to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.
“With the purpose, in part, to chronicle events, issues, pop culture and student life during any given school year, yearbooks often serve as a historical publication,” Warmuth said in an email. “Our yearbook standards reflect this purpose in highlighting a variety of topics written in either fact-based or opinion-based formats. The Black Lives Matter message presented a factual background of the movement and timeline of events.”
Warmuth notes that the yearbook included political messages “that display a balance in content.” Among the images she sent was a page from the yearbook highlighting an interview on election integrity with the conservative student body president.
The District, however, is apologizing for the political donation solicitation.
“The last sentence in the message about a donation should not have been included,” Warmuth said. “We apologize for this oversight. To ensure this doesn’t happen in the future, we will be reviewing our editing procedures and implementing a new process.”
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