Students protest after others kneel during Spanish-language song at homecoming

Students of Chicago's Marist High School on Tuesday staged a protest outside the school after peers rebuffed Spanish-language music at Friday's homecoming dance.

At the dance, a group of students took to the middle of the dance floor and kneeled, allegedly in protest of the song "Payaso de Rodeo."

The incident was first reported by Laura Rodríguez Presa of the Chicago Tribune.


That action was captured on video, and some students called it a sign of disrespect and a move that made some feel “unwelcomed.”

“When I saw it happening, I couldn’t believe it — then more began to kneel and no chaperon or school faculty did anything to stop it,” Marist High junior Elizabeth Pacheco told the Tribune.

“The whole act was completely unnecessary. We feel unsafe and unwelcomed.”

The homecoming incident on Friday was countered with a street protest Tuesday, when a group of majority-Hispanic students danced to "Payaso de Rodeo" on the sidewalks.

Both the school and the DJ company who played at the dance apologized for the incident while attempting to provide more context to students' actions, according to the report.

The school administration said in a statement the kneeling was not isolated to "Payaso de Rodeo" but rather a demonstration by some students of displeasure at various songs.


DJ company MG sound, for its part, said some of the same students who protested "Payaso de Rodeo" appeared to dance along to other Spanish-language songs.

Still, students and parents at the school said the incident highlights what they call a pattern of racial tension at the school.

"It was very hurtful to all the Latino community and even the white community who really embrace others and promote love for one another," said Diana García, Pacheco's mother.

"Parents make sacrifices to pay a lot of money for their children to attend this school. Students, parents and faculty need to learn to respect everyone regardless of their color," she added.