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Tuesday, February 27, 2024
Feb. 27, 2024

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Viral video shows details of Washougal student protest

'This is not an excuse for any freshmen or sophomores to disrespect their teachers.'

By , Columbian staff writer

Protests at Washougal High School continued on Wednesday, as a few dozen students held a demonstration outside to express opposition to the state’s indoor masking requirement.

A video that went viral on Twitter and sparked national attention on Wednesday showed a senior at the school informing fellow students and school officials of their intent to peacefully protest the requirement without causing additional trouble. The original poster on Twitter said the videos were obtained from a local group on Telegram, an online messaging service similar to WhatsApp.

“This is not an excuse for any freshmen or sophomores to disrespect their teachers,” said the student in the video, who has not been identified. “We want this to be a peaceful, respectful movement — we are just trying to gain back our rights as citizens.”

The student’s words drew over a million views on Twitter and TikTok on Wednesday — to the point that #WashougalHSWalkOut was locally trending on both applications. Users on both platforms from across the country applauded the speaker’s tone and ability to organize.

Scott Adams, famed cartoonist and creator of the long-running comic strip “Dilbert,” chimed in on Twitter, writing “Faith restored.”

Washougal Principal Sheree Gomez-Clark said the protests first began Monday, where as many as 100 students assembled outside the school. Students were offered masks when they arrived to school unmasked and were directed to hold their demonstration outside when they refused. A smaller group of masked students, she said, formed an unofficial counterprotest in response.

Washougal High School serves just under 1,000 students.

Protests continued on Tuesday — which is when the Twitter video was thought to have been recorded — and Wednesday, but Gomez-Clark said the numbers were closer to 20-30 students.

“The students were very respectful. They followed the district’s policy for organized protests,” Gomez-Clark said. “We fully support our students participating in their civic duties, they’ve been mature about it.”

Gomez-Clark said it’s her understanding that Wednesday’s protests are the last that have occurred.

The student in the video said the protesters would welcome being removed from schools, as sudden drops in attendance rates would get the attention of state leaders.

“If a staff member asks you to put a mask on, you say ‘no, thank you’ and keep walking,” the student leader said in the initial video. “And if they kick you out, then go home.”

A second video posted Tuesday evening shows a group of a dozen or so students walking into the school, unmasked, and being told to stay outside if they wouldn’t put on a mask.

“We’re going home!” students can be heard shouting in the video.