There were 43 students who walked out of Madison High School in Ohio on National Walkout Day. The school had had a student shooter two years ago, and one of the two shooting victims — Cooper Caffrey — joined the walkout as part of the national protest for gun control reform. Along with the other 42 students who participated on Mar. 14, Caffrey was assigned detention.
"They want to oppress and dominate anybody that has views different to theirs." That's how Bill Ison described the local school board to local news station WLWT. Ison is the grandfather of one of the student protesters, and he was disappointed by the punishment handed down from the board. It was board members who made the decision to issue detentions to all walkout participants — including Caffrey, a victim of gun violence at their own school.
Caffrey was shot while eating lunch in his school cafeteria on Feb. 29, 2016. He knew the boy who brought a gun to school and opened fire, and Caffrey said he forgave him during his later court testimony.
And according to the Cincinnati Inquirer, Caffrey hadn't planned on participating in the walkout when he left for school on Mar. 14. But then, a school announcement changed his mind.
The principal came on the intercom and explained some students were wearing purple to stand signal their support for the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students. He also informed students that anyone who disrupted the regular school day would face disciplinary consequences. Keith BieryGolick writes at the Cincinnati Enquirer that, "Cooper was pissed, he texted his dad, because they were telling him what to do. And pissed because he cared."
Caffrey's dad, Marty Caffrey, does not disagree with the detention. He posted on Facebook that the "whole purpose of a walkout is to protest against an establishment. I do not expect the establishment to support the walkout.” Marty also told the Cincinnati Enquirer that if there were no consequences for the students who chose to walk out, then their demonstration would have been "meaningless."
Marty and Cooper Caffrey both attended a school board meeting following the walkout. When the Board president, David French, said the students who protested owed the resource officer an apology, Caffrey felt betrayed. As reported at the Cincinnati Enquirer, he'd later tell his dad, "It was like being shot all over again."
Caffrey isn't seeking the spotlight, according to dad Marty. "He’s always hated the attention from all of this,” he told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I know that he really just wanted to pretend that day never happened.” But his disappointment following the school board meeting did prompt Caffrey to want to get more involved. Afterward, according to the Enquirer, he told his father, "We should come to every single one of these things so that doesn’t happen."
The small population of Madison Township is a largely Republican area. As reported by Cincinnati.com, less than 9,000 people live within the town's borders, and the elementary, middle, and high school are all located on the same campus. Part of the decision to hand out detentions to protesting students on March 14 came from the sense that they'd be promoting a message of gun control, which the community at large doesn't uniformly support. After the board decided they'd stick with their agreed upon discipline for students who protested, their focus shifted to the question of arming teachers in the classroom.
If Caffrey's recent actions are any indication, that's not a move he's likely to support — or leave without a response.