Molly Reuter, KLTV (Tyler, Texas), April 2008
Melanie Bowers, 13, and her parents walked into Athens High School Monday afternoon to talk to campus police. They were hoping to get some answers.
“It never should have happened in the first place. The whole assignment was a silly assignment and they should have contacted us immediately after it happened,” said J.R. Bowers, Melanie’s father.
It was an assignment for history class—to make a protest sign for or against an issue, and Melanie said she chose illegal immigration. Her sign read, “If you love our nation, stop illegal immigration.” Somehow, Melanie said the sign got passed around lunch and angered a group of Latino students.
“I didn’t know any of these people,” she said. One young, she claimed, jumped on her back and he put her in a choke hold. “We have brick walls in the middle school and he slammed my face on the bricks.”
Melanie said a group of boys also threatened to rape and kill her. Eventually, the boys let her go and when she went for help, she was ordered back to class, and told she could not call her parents, she said.
Athens ISD gave KLTV 7 a statement, confirming there was a disturbance in the hallway, Friday between two to three students. “We have a camera system in the building,” said Louis DeRosa. “We are collecting other information and statements from witnesses and this is all the information we have at this time,” he said.