Magdalen Square in Abbeville was the focal point for supporters of a Vermilion Parish middle school teacher who was handcuffed and jailed after being escorted out of a school board meeting Monday evening.
Hundreds of people rallied to show their support for Deyshia Hargrave, who was charged with resisting arrest and remaining after being forbidden when she raised questions about a raise being proposed for Superintendent Jerome Puyau at a Vermilion Parish School Board meeting.
The crowd, composed largely of teachers and members of the Louisiana Association of Educators, were asked to wear black to stand in solidarity with Hargrave, who had been named 2016 Teacher of the Year at Rene Rost Middle School in Kaplan.
The public backlash in the wake of a viral video showing Hargrave’s ouster from the board meeting has been severe. Death threats against Puyau and others caused a temporary lockdown at the school board’s office Tuesday. Puyau has since tearfully stated that he blames himself for this incident for not speaking up in Hargrave’s defense at the time of her arrest.
At the rally, Hargrave exhorted educators to continue the fight for more accountability among the school district’s administrators.
“If me getting arrested doesn’t help you to come out, I don’t know what will,” an emotional Hargrave said at the climax of the rally. “You need to come out for speaking. The more of you that show up and go the less of this kind of stuff will happen.
“Today my heart is broken for many reason but my will is not,” she concluded. “What happen to me should not dissuade others from speaking out and I hope and pray my experience will empower you, my students, young women everywhere, to know you have a voice and use it.”