News & Politics

Black Panther Members Breach Security at Virginia Elementary School to Stage Protest

A group of protesters identifying as members of the Black Panther Party protested inside a Virginia, elementary school Friday, according to the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO). The group apparently sneaked inside behind a parent and student who had been buzzed into the school entrance, LCSO said in a Facebook post to the community.

A staffer at Madison’s Trust Elementary School called 911 Friday morning to report that people were “possibly being disorderly” inside the school’s office, according to the post.

It was reported by school officials that the group entered the school’s vestibule by following a parent and student who were cleared to enter the school by staff through the electronic door access.

The group continued into the office and some members showed identification and asked to speak with a school administrator to discuss how recent events in the news surrounding the school were being addressed. After being advised by a school administrator he could not discuss personnel matters, the group left the office with some members loudly saying ‘no justice, no peace’.

LCSO deputies arrived at the school at around 9:55 a.m. and found the situation to be calm. Upon arrival, the deputies saw a group of six individuals all dressed in black, leaving the school. According to the LCSO Facebook post, the group was “compliant” and self-identified as members of a Black Panther Party.

Authorities concluded that the situation appeared to be nothing more than a protest, and no threats were made toward the school or staff at the time. (Unless you consider chants of “no justice, no peace” to be a threat). No arrests were apparently made.

An LCSO School Resource Officer stayed on campus for the rest of the school day as a precaution, however.

LSCO said that it would investigate the breach of visitor access that allowed the group to enter the school’s vestibule and office and would work with school administrators and security staff  “to identify any potential areas of concern, including strict visitor controls.”

The protest follows a controversial incident last month where teachers instructed students to pretend to be runaway slaves in the Underground Railroad for a Black History Month activity in gym class.

Third-, fourth- and fifth-graders at Madison’s Trust Elementary were instructed earlier this month to pretend to be runaway slaves, advancing through an obstacle course that represented the underground railroad.

After a number of complaints from parents, the principal apologized for the “culturally insensitive” lesson.

“The lesson was culturally insensitive to our students and families. I extend my sincerest apology to our students and school community,” David Stewart, the school’s principal, said in the letter sent on Feb. 12.

An earlier version of this article suggested incorrectly that the New Black Panthers were involved in the protest. In an email to PJM, a representative from the original Black Panthers of Virginia took responsibility for the protest.