At 1:00 p.m. on Monday, April 19, a group of around 100 students walked out the doors of the cafeteria in the first successful student-led walkout at Buffalo High School in over 25 years. Loosely organized around the themes of the Black Lives Matter movement, Buffalo’s Walkout happened simultaneously with similar events in schools across Minnesota.
Facilitators from youth activism organization Minnesota Teen Activists met participants near the student parking lot and encouraged some to go in front of the group to share anecdotes of experiences of racism and prejudice in the school and in the wider community. The crowd cheered and applauded with each new speaker.
Many of the speakers touched on the subjects of violent police confrontations, but also spoke about of bullying, homophobia, and general discrimination toward minority groups. Several of the speeches were punctuated with explicit language. As they spoke, some community members looked on from outside of the group. Teachers and staff members did not participate in the walkout, though some school personnel and the school resource officer were on-site for supervision and safety reasons.
A small contingency of counter-demonstrators briefly drove back-and-forth around The Rock, some with messages like “Back the Blue” painted on their vehicles while playing music loudly. Shortly after they began, the counter-demonstrators seemed to disappear, either heading back to the school or leaving the grounds entirely.
The walkout ended in a moment of silence at 1:47, a symbolic time commemorating the death of 20-year-old Daunte Wright, who was shot and killed by a police officer during a traffic stop, days before in Brooklyn Center. Afterward, students returned to their fourth block classes. Teachers were told that students were accountable for any missed work and class time.