May 13th, 2003, 03:14 PM
Secret Service Questions Students
There are other reports, they all have a slightly different take on what was actually said by both the students and the Secret Service. Still scary as hell......
Secret Service Questions Students
Posted: May 7, 2003 at 6:18 p.m.
OAKLAND (KRON) -- Some teachers in Oakland are rallying behind two students who were interrogated by the Secret Service. That followed remarks the teenagers made about the President during a class discussion. The incident has many people angry.
For years the classroom has been the setting for the free expression of ideas, but two weeks ago certain ideas led to two students being taken out of class and grilled by the United States Secret Service.
It happened at Oakland High. The discussion was about the war in Iraq. That's when two students made comments about the President of the United States. While the exact wording is up for debate, the teacher didn't consider it mere criticism, but a direct threat and she called the Secret Service.
Teacher Cassie Lopez says, "They were so shaken up and afraid."
Now, other teachers are coming to the aid of the two students and crying foul.
"I would start with the teacher, she made a poor judgement," Lopez says.
Teacher Larry Felson says, "What we're concerned about is academic freedom and that students have the right to free expression in the classroom."
Even worse, they say, is the fact that the students were grilled by federal agents without legal counsel or their parents present, just the principal.
"When one of the students asked, 'do we have to talk now? Can we be silent? Can we get legal council?' they were told, 'we own you, you don't have any legal rights,'" Felson says.
"We don't want federal agents or police coming in our schools and interrogating our children at the whim of someone who has a hunch something might be wrong," Lopez says.
The union representing Oakland teachers requires that students be afforded legal counsel and parental guidance before they're interrogated by authorities. It's too late for the two involved in this incident, and teachers say it's something they'll carry with them for years.
"I tell you the looks on those childrens faces. I don't know if they'll say anything about anything ever again. Is that what we want? I don't think we want that," says Lopez.
(Copyright 2003, KRON 4. All rights reserved.)
Oakland Teacher Calls Secret Service on Students!!
by Fired Up! Sunday May 04, 2003 at 11:52 AM
An Oakland teacher called the Secret Service on two 16 year old Oakland students because the alluded to offing Bush in a fired up conversation in their class about how Bush is killing people all over the world!! This is the type of thing that students say all the time.
Secret Service grills students Oakland teacher calls U.S. security agents after teens make in-class comments threatening President Bush
Oakland teacher calls U.S. security agents after teens make in-class comments threatening President Bush
By Alex Katz
Sunday, May 04, 2003 - OAKLAND -- Two students at Oakland High School were interrogated last month by the U.S. Secret Service after allegedly threatening the life of President Bush in a classroom discussion, school officials have confirmed.
English teacher Sandy Whitney said she called the Secret Service after two boys in her English class, both 16, made comments about getting a sniper to "take care" of Bush.
Oakland High sophomores John and Billy, who did not want their last names published, said Friday that their comments were made in jest. They said the April 23 interviews with federal agents left them scared and upset.
Although John admitted he made an ill-worded comment about Bush, one that he didn't want to repeat Friday, Billy said his only remark was "Bush is wacked," slang for crazy or deranged.
After the meeting with Secret Service agents, "I was traumatized," John said. "I was just sitting in class, just looking at the door to see if they were going to come get me or whatever."
"I was just trying to be funny," Billy said.
The way Whitney remembers it, John "said something like, 'We need a sniper to take care of Bush,' and Billy said, 'Yeah, I'd do it.'"
The class in question is at times "challenging," Whitney said.
Whitney said she called the San Francisco office of the Secret Service, now under the umbrella of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, to ask what her responsibilities were if one of her students had made a threat.
Under federal law, making a threat against the president's life is a crime punishable by up to five years in prison.
"I wasn't saying, 'Come and get these buzzards,' nothing like that," she said. "If you say, 'fire' in a crowded theater, that's not a good thing to do. If you say, 'Let's kill the president,' you have to be prepared for the consequences."
A few hours after Whitney's call, Oakland High received a visit from U.S. Secret Service Agents Julie Pharo and Eric Enos, said Principal Clement Mok.
Mok said the agents told him to pull the students out of their sixth period class. The agents grilled each one separately in a conference room with Mok present. The boys' parents were not called.
"I can't, in my position, determine what is or is not a national security threat," Mok said. "It is unusual (for the Secret Service to come to a school), but we don't get in the way of federal agents trying to do their jobs."
California law allows peace officers to question students on school grounds without notifying parents.
"People have a right to free speech, we're not trying to infringe on that," said Richard Stribling, a Secret Service official in San Francisco. "But there is a line there."
Stribling said he did not know about the Oakland High case. He said his office gets a lot of reports of threats against the president, and agents determine which ones to follow up on. But it is rare for agents to go to schools, he said.
The boys said the agents asked questions such as, "Are you a terrorist?", "What is your opinion of the president?" and "What would you say to the president if he was here?" Both said they would apologize.
John said the questions were intimidating, and claimed the agents told him he had no rights after what he had said about Bush.
The agents asked whether his family had guns at home, and whether he considered himself a good shot, John said. He answered yes to the first question and no to the second.
Billy said the agents also wanted to know if he had a picture of Bush with a target on it, and if he had ever been to Washington, D.C.
"I was crying at the moment," Billy recalled. He has not returned to Whitney's class since the incident.
Some of Whitney's colleagues said they would have used the boys' comments as an opportunity to discuss the consequences of threats.
"To think the Secret Service would come in, it's just outrageous to me," Oakland High English teacher Larry Felson said.
Dorothy Ehrlich, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Northern California office, questioned Mok's decision not to call the boys' parents.
Legislators in Sacramento are considering a bill backed by the ACLU that would make it mandatory for high school principals to tell students they can have a parent present during on-campus police interviews.
"If they thought it was serious enough of an incident to call in the Secret Service, it should have been serious enough to get the parents involved," Ehrlich said.