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Pioneer Reconvenes Quietly; Vandals' Prosecution Vowed

Pioneer Reconvenes Quietly; Vandals' Prosecution Vowed image Pioneer Reconvenes Quietly; Vandals' Prosecution Vowed image
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Some 14 uniformed and plainclothes Ann Arbor police officers were stationed at a quiet Pioneer High School this morning in the wake of a black student protest yesterday afternoon which escalated into a rampage through the school by 30 to 40 young blacks wielding hammers, tire chains and sawed-off flag poles.
Classes were resumed normally today. Uniformed pólice were at all of the doors, and plainclothesmen patrolled the halls with counselors.
Absenteeism at Pioneer High School was reported at about 10 per cent today, slightly higher than normal, aceording to school officials. A spokesman at Huron High said no count of student attendance was available when contacted by The News at noon.
Yesterday, some black students were angry over what they considered broken promises by the administration to black student demands last February for more black teachers and counselors.
Damage to the library, cafetería, girls' locker room, administrative wing and hall trophy cases was extensive, and has been preliminarily estimated at $10,000 to $18,000. There were no physical injuries, though three students and two faculty members were reportedly pushed.
Bookcases were tipped over, furniture was smashed, and Windows were broken. Larry E. Wright of 707 Felch St, and LaMark Curry of 823 Sylvan St., both 17, have been arrested by Ann Arbor pólice on a charge of malicious destruction of property at Pioneer yesterday. Both were placed in the County Jail last night, and are being arraigned in Ann Arbor District Court today. Both are Pioneer students.
If other positive identifications can be made, more arrests are expected.
At least 10 of the 30 to 40 youths involved in the rampage are known to be Hurón High students or non-student outsiders, and some were involved in the West Park incidents late this summer.
School officials have prornised to prosecute those identified in the destruction "to the full extent of the law." They said students in violaton of the school district's discipline policy yesterday also will be subject to its penalties.
Some of the approximately 200 angry people who jammed the Ann Arbor Board of Education meeting last night demanded that tough action be taken against the vandals, while others in the very polarized crowd urged that the reasons behind the destruction be considered.
"This situation will happen again next week because you fellows don't have the guts to stand up to it," William Christley, a member of the audience, shouted at the school board members.
Local attorney Jack Garris added: "We are sick and tired of allowing a handful of students to disrupt the public school system."
But other people cautioned that an "unbearable amount of force" against the students will not solve the underlying problem of racism in the Ann Arbor Public Schools. Mrs. Emma Wheeler of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People declared: "You can't keep killing black people and always getting your own way.
Yesterday's trouble - the first time any extensive damage had been done to a school in Ann Arbor - began about 9 a.m., when a group of 20 to 25 black students gathered in the auditoi'ium to discuss administrative action on the black demands of last February at Pioneer High.
(There are about 130 black students at Pioneer, out of a total student population of about 2,400.)
The black students were especially angry about the fact that two black staff members for every department at Pioneer High had not been hired over the summer. Last February, in response to black demands, Pioneer Principal Theodore R. Rokicki told the students, "Within the realm of my authority, I am personally committed to extending all due efforts" to meeting that. demand and most of the others.
(Rokicki told the students today over the public address system that two black staff for each department were not hired because there were very few vacancies this year. Three new black teachers, two black counselors, and one black athletic coach were hired this year, however. )
Between 25 and 50 black students met in the auditorium yesterday throughout the morning in what Rokicki termed an "unauthorized assembly." About eight plainclothesmen were called to the school by the principal at about 9:30 a.m.
The black students left the auditorium about 11:30 a.m., after the state antitrespass law was read to them by Rokicki. Some then adjourned to an upstairs classroom, near the library.
At about 12:35 p.m., the rampage began. The library was hit first. Windows were broken, shelves were tipped over, books were strewn about.
All of the mirrors were smashed in the girl's locker room, and chunks of the sinks were broken off. Some chairs and tables in the cafetería were overturned and broken.
The hall trophy cases were smashed, as were many windows in the administrative wing.
The entire rampage lasted about four minutes. Squad cars were called but the group had iimsnea lts aestruction oy me time the officers arrived. The school was closed at about 12:45 p.m. yesterday. Some 40 uniformed and plainclothed Ann Arbor police secured the building yesterday after it was closed. About a dozen Washtenaw County Sheriff's deputized also stayed for a short time. Some of the black Pioneer students 'went to Huron High yesterday after Pioneer was closed. Huron Assistant Principal Albert Gallup said the Pioneer students and other outsiders walked the Huron halls for part of the afternoon. But there was no trouble. At last night's school board meeting, every seat was filled, the hallways were teeming. People sat on the floor, the windowsills and even watched from outside. More than 30 persons from the emotional crowd spoke. Some of the speakers threatened to withhold their school taxes until the school board "gets tough." Others urged that the students involved in the destruction and their parents be made to pay for the damage. A retired colonel in the audience said he would like to give no money to the schools "until you board members control this school system as you have been elected to do." A mother said her daughter was "petrified" at Pioneer yesterday. "I'm sick of this violence and so is everybody in Ann Arbor," another mother declared. Mrs. Wheeler of the NAACP told the board the black students have repeatedly asked for more black teachers and counselors since the first protest at Pioneer in May of 1968. "We've asked for these things before and you have not come to grips with them," she declared. Black Ann Arborite Ezra Rowry said the racism in the Ann Arbor schools was the main reason behind the trouble. A black woman asked how white people can criticize violence when she said that, is traditionally the way white people settle their differences, such as in South Vietnam. At Pioneer High School this morning, Principal Rokicki urged that students help identify the youths involved in the destruction yesterday. "We must begin to restore Pioneer High School as a place where education is carried on," Rokicki told the students. "It can be a reasonable and normal school again. Offenders will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and within the discipline policy ... We cannot survive if we allow mob violence to run rampant through the building and our community. Let us work together to see that this doesn't happen again." The Pioneer staff is attempting to make further identifications of the students involved in yesterday's melee. The pólice are expected to remain at Pioneer throughout the day today. A decisión will be made later today on whether the officers will return tomorrow. (Related pictures and stories on Page 27)