Students returned to classes on Friday at Western High School in Bay City, Michigan, after Bay City Schools Superintendent Stephen C. Bigelow cancelled classes on Thursday, April 19. Citing tensions at the school, which is about 100 miles north of Detroit, Bigelow said there were rumors of a forthcoming confrontation between students. He told local news media that he believed that racist threats had been aired as part of some students' display of Confederate and yellow Gadsen 'Don't tread on me' banners.
Bigelow said that racist statements by students will not be tolerated. However, since the displays of the flags were not on school property, academic disciplinary action will be difficult. However, he said that any student who participated may be disciplined for skipping class.
On Tuesday morning, about six vehicles flying Confederate flags were parked next to school property. Some of those who parked there were not students at Western High School. Things became more tense on Wednesday when dozens of vehicles showed up. Some flew Confederate flags while others brandished flags and symbols proclaiming “Black Lives Matter”, “Hate not Heritage” and the gay liberation movement.
On Thursday, Bigelow admitted in a Twitter statement that the Bay County Sheriff department and school authorities had found no credible threat against students or staff members. He also wrote: "The staff of the Bay City Public Schools would like to remind our students, parents, and community members that we expect students to be in class during their scheduled class times. While we support the rights afforded to all via the Constitution, we need our students to be in class, ready to learn. We also do not condone protests on school property at any time during school hours or after because they cause disruption to the learning environment.”
Cameron Myers, a white student at Western, told The Bay City Times-MLive that he organized the displays of the Confederate standard in response to having a Confederate flag removed from his truck on school property by a black female classmate last week. After the turmoil on Tuesday and Wednesday, Myers and friends retreated to a public part in nearby Auburn, Michigan, where they circled their trucks and had a cookout.
Elsewhere in Bay City, students from Bay City Central High School joined similar demonstrations on Friday by students across the country by walking out of school to honor the victims of the deadly mass shooting at the high school in Columbine, Colorado, 19 years ago. Marching about a mile to Bay City Hall on Friday morning, they read a list of alleged school shooting victims going back to 1999. No disciplinary action against the students of Bay City Central High school was reported for any tardiness or absence they incurred.