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Saturday, March 01, 2008

Two Oregon Students Suspended Over Crucifixes

Two students were suspended from South Albany High School in oregon for "gang-related-activity" because they were wearing crucifixes given to them by their mothers which they refused to take off.

The video above is from Breitbart TV describing how Jaime Salazar, 14, and his friend Marco Castro, 16, came to be suspended from school for refusing to remove their crucifixes after the school principal, Chris Equinoa told them to take the crucifixes off.

According to the principal, crucifixes are being worn by gang members, therefore they are "gang-related" symbols and he claims his only purpose for these suspensions was school safety.

Salazar describes the scene when the principal, Equinoa, saw him wearing his crucifix and told him to put it away, ""I was like, why?" Salazar said. "He says it's related to gangs."

After arguing with the principal about the issue, Salazar was sent to the office but he went home instead and later received a notice that he was suspended for five days for "defiance and gang-related behavior."

Castro was suspended for three days for refusing to remove his rosary beads with a crucifix and a picture of the Virgin Mary.

Equinoa did not comment on these two specific cases but said that he has the discretion to ask any student to cover or remove any items that could be gang related, even religious symbols.

Executive assistant to the superintendent, Jim Haggart and further states, "We're not trying to squash any religious symbols and we're not trying to get into religion, but we are trying to get into student safety, and that's what we're really concerned about."

Officer Ken Fandrem, who leads a gang task force that meets monthly, says that fellow officers in other cities such as Salem and Hillsboro have been contending with crucifixes and rosaries as gang markers for the past several years.

He goes on to add, "They put their gang colors on the rosaries and claim they're religious. This is the first time I've dealt with it."

Spokesman for the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Portland, Bud Bunce, says there have been no reports to his office of of gangs using crucifixes or rosaries.

One has to wonder, if this was done with other religious symbols, from a different religion, what kind of outcry and claims of discrimination would be leveled at the school?