A black security guard at a Wisconsin high school was fired for using a racial slur while telling a student not to use that word, Madison's WKOW-TV reports. Students staged a massive walkout in protest.
Marlon Anderson was a well-loved security guard at Madison West High School. That is, until Wednesday of last week, when he was fired. As Anderson wrote on Facebook, he had responded to a call involving a student causing a disturbance, and when he went to address the situation, it wound up costing him his job.
"Short story.... I get called a b*tch a** ni**a by a student, I responded do 'not call me ni**a!' And I got fired MMSD I unfortunately expected better," he wrote.
"I have the right to look you right in your face and tell you, 'Do not call me that word.' That is my right as a citizen of this country. That is my right as a black man to not be called that word," he said.
His superiors, however, didn't see it that way. Citing zero tolerance for racial slurs, he was fired.
That firing got his union to file a grievance against his employers. Further, the situation compelled the students at the high school to walk out in support.
Marlon's son, Noah, who is the head of the black student union at the school, organized the walkout. "Scores" of students walked out of the high school and then marched to the nearby administration building.
"This zero-tolerance policy is incorrect and needs to take into account context," said a student, Grace Middleton.
In fact, it seems as if the district has been willing to hear the students' concerns. Following the protest, a "small group" was allowed inside the administration building, where they reportedly met with district officials.
School Board President Gloria Reyes, while stopping short of admitting that the school board made a mistake in firing Anderson, says that the students' voices deserve to be heard.
"They are our future, and we have to consider them in making decisions and policies that impact them directly," she said.
Reyes also said that the school board will be discussing the firing on Monday.
As for Anderson, in an emotional Facebook post, he thanked the students for having his back.
"I have cried so much watching you guys on social media my head lost weight... When I get back I will personally walk everybody to class ON TIME," he wrote.