Police Intimidation Quashes Brooklyn Student Protest

04/18/2011 3:41 PM |

Fort Hamilton Principal JoAnn Chester
  • Fort Hamilton Principal JoAnn Chester

Students planned to walk out of Fort Hamilton High School ten days ago in support of their art teacher, but police intimidation quashed their budding expression of peaceful assembly rights. The teacher, Sabrina Milo, had been arrested in connection with making “terroristic threats”—telling a few colleagues in the teachers lounge that one day she’d show up with a shotgun and shoot her problems away. One disturbed teacher present contacted authorities; Milo insists she was blowing off steam, and had overwhelming support of the teenagers, who praised her teaching methods, commitment to her students, and sense of humor. Many suggested that unserious remarks had been taken way too seriously.

The Daily News‘ Bay Ridge correspondent, Matthew Lysiak, reports that, when the time came for students to walk out, police guarded every exit.

“Look at all the cops,” one student said. “Everyone is scared.”

The Bay Ridge high school has had its fair share of negative publicity of late; weeks before the arrest, a student was arrested after dumping hydrochloric acid on a classmate during chemistry lab.

Principal JoAnn Chester surely wished to quell student rebellion to avoid negative publicity that might accompany it. Perhaps she succeeded. But by acting so iron-fistedly, she now looks more like an ugly tyrant than an effective leader.