In some cultures, May 1st is a celebration of spring. Parties are held, poles are decorated with ribbon, and kids get off of school.
In Cleveland, some students might be staying home today too – but in their case it has nothing to do with springtime celebrations.
In these parts of the woods, May 1st is known by a different name: “Beat Up a White Kid Day.” The holiday – if one can call it that – has been going on for years. Some claim the event started as a result of desegregation tensions in the schools. Others say the day was started in retaliation for the Rodney King beatings. But its long been known as a day for minorities to avenge alleged wrongs done to them by whites. And as a result, it’s a day that many white children in the Cleveland schools call in sick...
Five years ago, the biggest “Beat Up A White Kid” attack occurred near the Wilbur Wright Middle School in Cleveland. Twelve girls and six boys began taunting Mellisa King, a 13-year old white student. One girl grabbed her ponytail, bringing her to the ground, while 17 others beat, kicked and choked her, calling her “white trash” and a “white bitch.”
When the kids were questioned later by police about the attack, more than a few explained that May Day was the day when minorities got a “free shot” at white kids. In court rulings, Judge Joseph Russo declared that “this terrible tradition must be stopped.”
David Quolke, president of the Cleveland Teachers Union, is worried about an outbreak this year. “School violence has risen to a much different level this year,” he says. “It’s something we need to be concerned about.” --Rebecca Meiser