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In December 1965, a large group of families located in the Des Moines School
District decided that they would support a proposed cease-fire for the Vietnam
War by wearing black armbands. The Des Moines Public School District met in
advance, and held some hearings on its behalf. They found that this could
potentially cause a disruption in the school classroom, and created a rule
prohibiting students who wore the armband to school, punishing them by a
suspension until they complied with the new rule. A young woman, Mary Beth
Tinker, wore a black armband in clear defiance with the school?s new policy,
forcing the district and school officials to suspend her. 4 others were
suspended also, out of the 18,000 in the district. In the classroom and on
school grounds, children elicited many comments to the display of ?truce?.
There was no violence, but this ?school-ground-teasing? could easily become
so. On December 21, 1965, the school board met again and voted to uphold the
armband restriction after a few complaints from students and parents. The school
board members stated that it is their job to uphold order, and provide a safe
learning place for the children of America. This display of defiance and
cease-fire could potentially cause disorder within the school environment. It
was the school boards expert opinion that this could cause disorder.
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