Anti-mask protesters return to Vancouver school

Protesters returned to the grounds of a Vancouver high school on Friday despite a court order.

By Becca Robbins / The Columbian

VANCOUVER — Protesters again brought signs, flags and megaphones to the sidewalks outside of Skyview High School on Friday, this time rallying against a court-ordered injunction prohibiting demonstrations that “disrupt educational services” within one mile of Vancouver Public Schools buildings.

About three dozen people came out to the high school as students were released from classes for the weekend. The group held signs and expressed opposition to school mask mandates and called the injunction unconstitutional.

Clark County Superior Court Judge Suzan Clark granted the school district’s petition for an injunction Tuesday. Protesters said they planned to take their rally to the judge’s house later Friday afternoon, and her address was circulated on social media.

The district sought the injunction after Skyview and neighboring Alki Middle School and Chinook Elementary School were placed under lockdown Sept. 3 when about 12 protesters attempted to enter the high school.

Some driving by the high school Friday shouted or honked at the rally — some disagreeing, some supporting.

One father in line to pick up his kids, who are a freshman and a senior, began yelling at the group to leave.

“Go to the school board if you want to make a difference,” Nick Sparks told the group through his rolled-down car window.

The group approached his car and told him they were there to fight for people’s rights and “peacefully resist.”

Sparks later said he agrees everyone has the right to peacefully protest but that blocking traffic and disrupting the school day was not the way to do it.

Protester Jacob Beaird returned to Skyview on Friday to oppose the injunction he believes is unconstitutional.

“I think it’s absurd,” Beaird said.

He had protested masks in schools earlier in the week and said he has a child who will soon start attending school in the district.

A few people brought signs supporting the district and masks in schools.

The district sent out a message to parents with students at Skyview, Alki and Chinook on Friday letting them know the district was aware of the planned protests.

“Safety is a top priority for our students and staff members,” the message stated.

Vancouver Public Schools spokeswoman Pat Nuzzo said the district had been in touch with law enforcement Friday and had increased district security staff. About six school resource officers with security vehicles kept watch over the groups. A Clark County Sheriff’s Office patrol vehicle was also seen in the area.

The protests against masks in schools began Sept. 2 in support of Skyview student Melanie Gabriel, who is seeking a medical exemption to attend school without a mask. Gabriel attended the protest Friday but declined to comment.

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