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Marist High School Cancels Friday Classes Amid Safety Concerns

By  Howard Ludwig and Evan F.  Moore | November 10, 2016 5:20pm 

 Black Lives Matter Youth has canceled a protest planned for Friday that was to begin Downtown and conclude with a gathering at Marist High School in Mount Greenwood.
Black Lives Matter Youth has canceled a protest planned for Friday that was to begin Downtown and conclude with a gathering at Marist High School in Mount Greenwood.
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DNAinfo/Howard A. Ludwig

MOUNT GREENWOOD  — Amid safety concerns about a protest outside Marist High School, the Catholic school in Mount Greenwood canceled classes Friday.

"We came to this decision after communicating with the Chicago Police Department, Ald. [Matt] O’Shea, and others, and assessing the situation internally. While safety is a concern, we also aim to limit disruptions to the learning process, which is vital to our students’ success," Marist spokeswoman Patti Arvesen said via email.

Before the cancelation of classes was announced, Black Lives Matter Youth canceled its protest planned for Friday that was to begin Downtown and conclude with a gathering at Marist.

Ald. O'Shea (19th) and Chicago Police in the Morgan Park District confirmed the cancelation that was posted on the youth group's Facebook and Twitter pages late Thursday.

The group had planned to protest alongside black Chicago Public School students. Organizers pointed to safety concerns as its reason for cancelling the event at the Catholic high school at 4200 W. 115th St. in Mount Greenwood.

In a press release issued late Thursday, the youth group said there was a "very clear message that residents of Mount Greenwood intended to harm protestors, a group of youth mostly under 18 years old."

The statement from Black Lives Matter Youth went on to day that after seeing several comments made regarding the planned protest that Chicago Public Schools' reached out to parents of students involved in the group to share their concerns.

Comments included, "These n-----s should be doing hard labor for 16 to 20 hours a day on the farm" and "... [we will] pick up the grenades, pull the pins out, and throw them back," according to the press release.

The Veterans Day protest was planned in response to racially charged text messages sent Sunday involving several Marist students. A screenshot of the exchange went viral during a particularly tumultuous weekend on the Southwest Side.

On Saturday, a 25-year-old black man was shot and killed by an off-duty police officer in Mount Greenwood. Black Lives Matter activists went to meet family of the late Joshua Beal later that day and were met by people holding a "Blue Lives Matter" flag and yelling at them to get out of their neighborhood.

A protest followed on Sunday where black activists said they encountered '60s-style racism as they clashed with demonstrators supporting police. Another protest was held Tuesday night, as more police supporters and activists had a heated exchange.

Meanwhile, 4,289 signatures had been collected on an online petition as of Thursday, which seemingly seeks to repeal the expulsion of five female students involved in the racists text message exchange.

"These highly-intelligent young women made a horrible mistake that they wish they had never made," the petition states. "But if you do not forgive others for their sins, your father will not forgive your sins."

Marist Principal Larry Tucker would not comment on the petition or the disciplinary actions faced by the students involved in the text messaging incident.

"Marist High School has faced a very challenging situation this week," Tucker said in an emailed statement. "This week’s events have offered the opportunity to revisit the climate and culture of our community to ensure we truly embody what we say we are: Marists who make Jesus Christ known and loved."

Tucker went on to say that diversity awareness, education, and training is underway at the school and being led by professionals in the field. Programming aimed at addressing the issues that have come to light since the incident is also underway.

"Marist will emerge from this as a better, more loving, Catholic community," he said.

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