Posters with the bold headline "IMMIGRANTS WELCOME” above an image of barbed wire being severed with a wire cutter were displayed in hallways and classrooms at River Road/El Camino del Rio Elementary School in Eugene, Oregon, KLCC-FM reported.
But "IMMIGRANTS WELCOME” weren't the only words that students — kindergartners through fifth-graders — could see.
The following text is in the center of the posters: “The border is not a wall – it’s a system of control. It doesn’t protect people; it pits them against each other. It doesn’t foster togetherness; it breeds resentment. It doesn’t keep out predators; it gives them badges and guns."
It goes on: “The border does not divide one world from another. There is only one world, and the border is tearing it apart."
What happened to the posters?
Eugene School District officials said they believe a contractor took down all the posters over winter break, KLCC reported.
The suspect shared photos of the posters on Facebook, the station added, which led to accusations of student indoctrination from the suspect's friends. The Facebook post has been taken down, KLCC reported, and the contractor has been barred from the school.
What does the district superintendent have to say about the posters?
“It wasn’t the 'IMMIGRANTS WELCOME,' it was what was below that, that spoke about the border wall and that was where it gets a little bit tricky with the politics of it all,” District Superintendent Gustavo Balderas told the station, adding that some teachers have replaced the original posters.
Balderas added to KLCC: “As of right now, we welcome any immigrant posters that are up anywhere across the district. It’s making sure that again we use language that does not politicize this statement ... it’s not a political statement, it’s 'immigrants welcome.' We welcome all students.”
What's different about this elementary school?
River Road/El Camino del Río is a "two-way immersion program established in 2009" that allows "native English and Spanish speakers to learn together in order to become bilingual and biliterate" and "establish strong cross-cultural relationships," according to the district's website.
Practicando contando en espanol. Practicing counting in Spanish. Brand new building at River Road/El Camino del Rio… https://t.co/Lt1o9B4ub3— Gustavo Balderas, 4J (@Gustavo Balderas, 4J) 1515810825.0
Students "learn to read in Spanish and English simultaneously," the website notes, adding that "half the content is taught in English and half is in Spanish."
What does one parent have to say about the posters?
Kristidel McGregor's children — who speak English at home — attend River Road/El Camino del Río, and McGregor wrote an op-ed defending the posters.
"Many of the students at El Camino del Rio, or their parents or siblings, have immigrated to the United States," she wrote. "Some of the bilingual teachers are also immigrants."
McGregor added to KLCC: "Schools don’t care what your immigration status is. What schools are there for is to educate students and to make students feel welcome."
“I think this particular incident may perhaps be over, but it’s just a smaller incident in a much larger issue," she also told the station. "Schools have hit a turning point. Our schools in the United States are no longer majority white. I think we’re seeing some of the pushback on that.”
McGregor told KLCC she's received mostly positive feedback on her column, along with some hate mail.
What about the website address at the bottom of the poster image?
The website address — crimethinc.com/borders — on the bottom of the Twitter image appeared to be broken Friday. But the crimethinc site describes itself as "a rebel alliance — a decentralized network pledged to anonymous collective action — a breakout from the prisons of our age."
It adds that crimethinc "is a banner for anonymous collective action" and "an international network of aspiring revolutionaries extending from Kansas to Kuala Lumpur."
But district spokesperson told the Todd Starnes Radio Show that school officials weren't aware the posters may have originated from an organization with apparent anarchist leanings and that none of the posters displayed at the elementary school included the website address.