A group of students passionately protested after a transgender classmate reported an alleged assault – only for the police to claim no assault took place.
Students gathered outside of Berlin High School in Berlin, Wisconsin on 9 November after a 14-year-old transgender boy was allegedly cornered in the boy’s bathroom by fellow students and told to pull down his pants and lift up his shirt.
According to local news reports, the pupil also said that he’d been sexually assaulted “several times” in the same bathroom over the past couple of weeks but had been “afraid to come forward right away”. He told Action 2 News: “They were surrounding the stall door and one was recording through the peek hole, and they saw my bottom half and after that I stood in the stall crying.”
Police in the small town, which has a population of just 5,524, have since come under fire after their investigation found that the student was not assaulted.
“After multiple interviews and examining the associated evidence of the alleged assault, our investigation discovered no physical assault or attack against the alleged victim took place,” the Berlin Police Department told Action 2 News.
Unsatisfied with the police response, the trans pupil’s friends and supporters then staged a viral walkout the following day, with senior Amber Olmstead explaining to Action 2 News: “We sat there for a while and we were trying to get our questions answered, and we were kind of getting blown off and they were trying to get us inside, but we wanted this to be public, we wanted people to see us, hear us.”
Another student, Autumn Peterson, said: “There’s been a big past of assault and homophobia in our school, and it just needs to come to an end.”
The viral video in support of the transgender teen, which has over 300,000 likes on TikTok and over 8,000 comments, shows a crowd of teenagers chanting “trans lives matter” and waving placards while Donald Glover’s protest anthem “This Is America” plays in the background.
One commenter said: “F**k. That poor kid. That is still my worst fear and to face that as a child must have been devastating, I hope he’s alright.”
A second person commented on the video saying: “These stories are really tough on me having been the recipient of an assault that nearly left me dead back in the late 80s I had hope that by the time I was 60 these would be rare.
“This has to stop, but the propaganda regarding anyone that can be ‘othered’ needs to stop first.”
In a statement to Action 2 News, superintendent Carl Cartwright wrote: “The Berlin Area School District is aware of a student walkout in response to allegations of a student assault at the high school. The Berlin Area School District is committed to the success of all students in a safe learning environment and we take such allegations seriously.
“The school district is cooperating with local law enforcement who are investigating this situation. The district is also conducting its own investigation. Because of the ongoing investigations, the district is unable to provide additional details at this time.”
Berlin Police are asking anyone to call them at (920) 361-2121 if they have direct information about a recording taken in the bathroom.