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Athens High School brawl results in protest, students missing school

Students missed school and others held a protest Thursday after a fight broke out Wednesday at Athens High School.

Posted: Apr 11, 2019 9:11 PM
Updated: Apr 12, 2019 7:00 PM

On Thursday, a lot of students at Athens High School didn't go to class after a large brawl on Wednesday between students, police and at least one parent.

A protest happened Thursday in downtown Athens. The organizer told WAAY 31 he and others gathered on the square to protest for a change in the way they think minorities are treated in Athens.

Amanda Loggins (left), Gabrielle Kirby (center), and Makaleb Boykin (right)

Amanda Loggins (left), Gabrielle Kirby (center), and Makaleb Boykin (right)

The group said the fight that broke out on Wednesday was racially motivated, and they're not getting answers from police or the school. In the meantime, extra police are on hand at Athens High.

The roughly 20 people protesting on Thursday did not chant, but they did have signs saying, 'Black Lives Matter.'

Both Athens school resource officers involved in the incident will be going back to work on Friday. In social media video shot by students, you can see one officer hitting a student, and that officer will not be returning to the school. The officer will, however, be back on patrol.

Athens police say he was defending himself when he hit the student. Police showed WAAY 31 school security camera and body camera video of the entire incident.

Athens police are not releasing the video, because there are a lot of underage kids in it, and there is still an ongoing investigation into what happened.

In the video, the school resource officers can be seen asking students to leave from around the principal's office. Students don't immediately leave, and one student is seen raising his voice and swearing. That student was arrested for disorderly conduct, which escalated the situation.

One student, who was afraid to be identified on camera, said many students didn't go to school on Thursday because of what happened the day before.

"We were all just worried. It was just that gut feeling that none of us felt safe at our own high school anymore,” the student said. "Take a look at the parking lot across the street. There’s nobody there. That parking lot is packed every single day. We are always struggling to find parking space.”

The school says the fight started when a mom, Amanda Loggins, became angry in a meeting over her child's suspension, because she felt the suspension was too long. The school says they told the mom to leave after she started cursing. They say she came back and incited violence. She and three students left in handcuffs.

Athens police arrested 39-year-old Amanda Loggins, 18-year-old Gabrielle Kirby, 18-year-old Makaleb Boykin and one juvenile. Police say the incident lasted approximately five minutes, just after noon on Wednesday. The suspects were charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

Kirby, Loggins's daughter, said she does not agree with how the officer responded to the situation. In the video shown to WAAY 31 by police, it shows the officer in the airlock of the school. He walked up to Loggins, who was there to speak to the principal about what she claims is excessive discipline from a previous incident involving Kirby the day before.

Loggins was chanting 'Black Lives Matter,' following the arrest of the student, Makaleb Boykin. Loggins then goes over to a sliding window inside the airlock to speak with office staff about pulling her children out of school. That is when things escalated.

"Policemen like that, they don't need to be on the force, cause they're not here to help us," said Gabrielle Kirby.

Officers are continuing to collect evidence, including witness statements and video of the incident, Athens police say. Anyone with information about the case is asked to call 256-233-8700. Police said they will decide later whether or not to release the video WAAY 31 was shown on Thursday to the public.

Some parents say it could have been a lot worse, and some students who did go to class on Thursday left early.

"My very first thought was the school shooting in Florida a couple of years ago. Not knowing what started the problem, but it looked like a riot. A heart-wrenching moment of fear. Just fear,” said an Athens High School parent.

"They heard that people were showing off weapons in the bathrooms and a bunch of people I know were just like, ‘Go back home,’” said a student.

Prom is this weekend but, now, some students say they’re afraid to go. One student said she doesn’t want to spend her last few weeks of high school in fear.

"Having something this intense, and the atmosphere itself being tense, it worries us all. Some of us have exams to take. How are we supposed to concentrate on something like that when we’re always afraid that something bad is going to happen?” a student said.

One parent believes the school district can put an end to it all.

"They need to put their foot down and say, ‘This won’t be tolerated. Period.’ Get them all together, go to the stadium—parents, kids, police officers, administration—get them all in one spot and say, ‘This is how it’s going to be,’” the parent said.

WAAY 31 reached out to see exactly how many students were absent from school on Thursday, but we're still waiting to hear back. At the Limestone Career Technical Center, officials said only 4 of about 40 students from Athens High School showed up on Thursday.

The Athens Police Department told WAAY 31 this incident will be used in the training of new officers in the years to come. Police said the officers who hit a student while they were trying to make an arrest used the training they were taught.

Officials with Athens City Schools says Amanda Loggins was trespassing, but some parents don't believe she was.

Loggins was at Athens High School on Wednesday to meet with the principal about her child’s suspension.

School officials say they asked Loggins to leave because of her use of inappropriate language and hostile behavior.

Surveillance video watched by WAAY 31, but not made available to the public, shows Loggins walking out of the first set of doors. But she remained in the foyer and did not walk out of the second set of doors into the parking lot.

School officials call this area the “secure lock area.” They told WAAY 31 they consider it to be outside of the building because, once you walk out of the first set of doors, they automatically lock and you can’t get back in without someone unlocking them for you.

School officials told WAAY 31 Loggins went to a sliding glass partition inside the foyer to check her kids out of school, but was chanting “black lives matter.” That’s when the school resource officer tried to arrest her and things escalated.

“Any time that you have an escalation like this, it’s going to always cause trouble," parent Micah Bass said.

School officials say Loggins tried to get back in through the locked doors, so they considered her trespassing, but in the video WAAY 31 watched, we only see her in the foyer. We don’t see her attempting to open those doors.

Either way, Micah Bass believes she was definitely trespassing.

“Any time that you’re asked to leave a property and you don’t actively leave the premises completely, that is trespassing," he said.

Other parents WAAY 31 spoke with, who didn’t want to be on camera, say she could’ve been in the process of leaving, but because she wanted to check her children out, she was delayed. Those parents believe she wasn't trespassing.

Others say, no matter what, she would be trespassing until she got in her car and drove away.

“Even in the parking lot, it’s still considered the campus grounds, which means that she is still on school property, which means that she is still trespassing," Bass said.

Amanda Loggins was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, but she was not charged with trespassing.

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