Parishioners planned to gather in Ruston Tuesday morning to protest in support of a former Cedar Creek student who was allegedly severely bullied as a student at the school.
But according to the organizers, the Ruston Police Department had other ideas.
Rally organizer Kristen Davis said protesters should meet in Lowe’s car park on Morrison Drive and march down Goodwin Road to Kentucky Road in Ruston.
“Ruston Police closed this down and forced everyone to leave before it started,” said Davis.
What we know:Cedar Creek’s lawsuit alleges that the student endured “Hell Day” of bullying
Ruston Police did not respond to calls for comment.
Cedar Creek School is currently facing a lawsuit from two parents who claim their son was severely bullied – verbally, physically and sexually – and that the school knew about the bullying but did not intervene.
A school administrator emailed Cedar Creek’s parents earlier this week saying the school was taking action as soon as they were made aware of the allegations, including conducting an independent investigation with the help of a retired police officer.
“There have been many threats from Cedar Creek parents, and even from the Ruston Police Department, suggesting that we (don’t) gather tomorrow just for fear of upsetting the parents,” the organizers wrote on Facebook. “So we’ve updated the changes to the Justice 4 Paul event page and want to clarify a few things as well. Here are things we strongly recommend to anyone if you want to attend: We recommend you go to Lowe by 8am park and go together, if possible in groups. ”
Paul is a pseudonym used in the lawsuit for the alleged victim who is a minor.
Davis said the other rally organizer, Megan Danielle, went to the Ruston Courthouse and asked the Lincoln Parish Police Jury for permission to assemble outside the courthouse.
Less than 10 community members protested outside the courthouse with handwritten signs reading “Justice 4 Paul” and “Protect Our Children”.
“A lot of people have been disappointed or confused about where to go,” said Davis.
A small group of protesters gathered on the corner of Commerce Street and Kentucky Street to support Paul with the signs “I Stand with Paul” and “Stop Bullying Now”. The small group included Callie McCarter, who said she knew the victim’s family, and Jennifer Treadwell, a former Cedar Creek School student.
“The family is a close family to ours and we just want to stand by them,” said McCarter.
McCarter said the situation is not right and wants other students experiencing bullying to feel safe enough to speak up.
Treadwell said bullying is widespread, but the situation is extreme.
“On the other hand, it really does come to life,” said Treadwell. “There are a lot of really great people and families in Cedar Creek, but this story needs to be told.”
Davis said she hoped the community would stand behind her and her children if the incident happened to them.
“We have to protect our children. We have to protect our children,” she said. “I believe this will be a good opportunity for parents across Lincoln Parish to discuss bullying in our school system and prevention, and ultimately not to sweep this situation under the rug.”
Davis said the public was not made aware that the children accused of bullying Paul were being transferred to other schools.
“A lot of questions are being asked now, but why not three months ago,” said Davis. “Why did it take a year to get this child recognized?”
Davis said organizers had requested permission to host a rally at Railway Park in downtown Ruston. The date for the rally has not yet been set.
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