The word was love. The color was blue, a symbol for peace and serenity.
Parents, students and other citizens clothed in every hue of blue gathered in front of Watertown High School Monday to protest against the emotional destruction caused by bullies.
Last week, Patrick M. Fleming, organizer, made a Facebook event calling for people in the north country to write “love” on their arm in memory of Erin K. Foley, a Watertown High senior who committed suicide on Tuesday.
“We’re looking for a change,” he said. “It’s a small start, but it’s going to continue. The more people get on board, the better. We’re looking for a lifetime commitment.”
He said the protest was not against the school district administration, and students are the first line of defense against the cruel act. He is planning to have another anti-bullying event this summer.
Students from Case Middle School were able to attend if they received parental permission. Even more students were expected to come to another rally after school at 2:30 p.m.
Some students used the event as an excuse to run to the stores across the street from the school and chat with friends until they were lectured about the negative impact bullying had for Miss Foley.
“Erin lost her life, because no one cared,” said family friend Tasha M. Williams to the students. “I don’t want bullies here. If you’re bullying someone, you’re going to have to deal with me.”
Miss Foley’s father, Paul J. Foley, hopes the protest will bring about change within the student body and to know they are not alone when dealing with this serious topic.
“At home was her safety zone. I just know that she was having problems at school, especially gym class,” he said.
He received a forwarded text message from one of Miss Foley’s friends with the word “goodbye” before her body was found in the woods adjacent to Jefferson Community College. She was expecting to enroll there in the fall.
“Erin would have only had a couple more weeks before her whole world would have opened up to her,” Mr. Foley said. “I want these kids to know they’re not alone. They need to hang on.”