If there’s a protest at Cape Henlopen High School, but the media is not allowed to cover it does it make a sound?
That was the question this morning as Cape Henlopen officials and Delaware State Police went to great lengths to keep students and reporters as far apart as possible.
Students walked out of Cape Henlopen High School as part of National School Walk Out Day, a nationwide protest among high schoolers to express solidarity with their peers from Parkland, Florida one month to the day after a mass shooting killed 17 students.
At 10 AM, hundreds of students shuffled into the blistering cold and were herded onto the bleachers of the football stadium. There were no speeches or chants, just the low buzz of several hundred students talking amongst themselves. The only vestige of a protest were six students on the periphery holding signs that spelled out “E-N-O-U-G-H.” After sitting in the blustery winds for 17 minutes the students got up to go back inside; some audible cries of relief could be heard from the stands as students headed towards the warmth of the building.
While the Cape Henlopen School District helped enable the walkout on the principle that the students were exercising their first amendment rights to freedom of speech, the District simultaneously worked to suppress the reporters exercising their first amendment rights to a free press.
The campus was on lockdown mode, with Lewes Police guarding the two entrances and multiple Delaware State troopers setting up an outer and inner perimeter between the public and the students. Media were allowed to observe the protest, but only from behind a chain link fence on the far opposite end of the field. The extended buffer continued as the students returned to the building, and media were kept about a hundred yards at bay.
From the start, one Cape Henlopen official tried to steer WGMD completely away from the protest, pointing out to the highway saying, “I think I saw some [students] over there. I’m just going to the track.”
He was referencing was a handful of women on the side of Kings Highway who wanted to show their support for the students. They were eventually allowed on the school grounds at the end of the protest, where they chanted “enough is enough” as the last few students re-entered the building.
So in the end, who knows what the students were protesting. We will never know if it was for gun control, increased school safety and security, or out of sorrow for the lives lost last month; all we do know is the students’ voices were not heard today.